Skip to main content

Our team offers patients comprehensive consultations from a team of experts specializing in Parkinson’s disease.

Neurology/Movement Disorders

Neurology is a medical specialty dealing with disorders of the nervous system, and the neurologists at UNC’s Parkinson’s Foundation Center of Excellence specialize in movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease (PD). To evaluate a PD patient, the neurologist will exclude other diseases and assess the patient’s PD-related motor, mood, autonomic and cognitive symptoms. The neurologist will also be responsible for the primary treatment of these symptoms and the management of complications.

How can your neurologist help you?

A neurologist can address an individual’s movement concerns and diagnose Parkinson’s as needed. The neurologist will also treat symptoms as they change over the course of the disease and make medication adjustments if needed. Be sure to discuss any symptom changes, new concerns, or issues in medications with your neurologist.


Some individuals with Parkinson’s may benefit from Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) therapy, a surgical treatment for Parkinson’s that can help improve symptoms such as tremor, rigidity, and slowness of movement. Our movement disorders specialists are experts in medication therapy and other Parkinson’s treatments and can help determine if DBS is a good choice for you.

How can your neurologist help you?

If you are interested in exploring surgical options, such as Deep Brain Stimulation, be sure to mention your interest with your movement disorders neurologist. He or she can explain the procedure in depth and evaluate whether you are a good candidate for the procedure.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is a health care specialty involved with evaluating, diagnosing, and treating disorders of the musculoskeletal system. With Parkinson’s, the physical therapist will analyze, measure and treat motor behavioral disorders and disorders of balance and postural control that impact the performance of functional tasks.

How can your physical therapist help you?

A physical therapist can help you with the functional tasks such as balance, gait/walking, turning, stair climbing, reaching, grasping, posture, strength, range of motion, and assessing your equipment needs. Be sure to mention any concerns you may have in these areas to the physical therapist during your assessment.

Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy is a health care specialty that is closely related to physical therapy; however, the treatment goals are different. Physical therapy generally aims to improve daily functioning by enhancing basic skills such as gait or transfers. In contrast, occupational therapy focuses on being able to use these skills to enable patients to engage in meaningful roles and activities in their general functioning.

How can your occupational therapist help you?

An occupational therapist can help treat impairments in relation to functional tasks such as dressing, personal/self care, shopping, work, driving, writing, leisure and other home management tasks. They can also help with home safety evaluations to address risks within your home.

Speech and Language Pathology

The goal of speech therapy is to maximize speech ability, language comprehension and expression, memory, cognitive skill, and alternative modes of communication. Speech language pathologists also evaluate and treat voice and swallowing disorders.

How can your speech therapist help you?

A speech therapist can help address issues in Parkinson’s such as motor-speech problems, swallowing and drooling, choking issues, and vocal strain and volume. Be sure to mention any concerns in these areas to your speech therapist during the evaluation.

Movement-Related Sleep Disorders

Many individuals with Parkinson’s develop sleep disturbances, such as restless leg syndrome or REM sleep behavior disorder. Our Center of Excellence offers patients access to neurologists who specialize in these sleep disorders to ensure that all Parkinson’s-related symptoms are considered and addressed in a treatment plan.

How can your neurologist help you?

It is very important for patients to discuss sleep-related issues with their movement disorders specialists in order to be assessed and treated appropriately. Please discuss any sleep-related concerns with your neurologist, particularly if you experience issues falling asleep or staying asleep or find that you’re experiencing excessive sleepiness during the day.

Cognitive Neurology

Many individuals with Parkinson’s experience difficulties with attention, task completion, decision-making, and word-finding at some point throughout the course of the disease. Our clinic offers access to neurologists who specialize in memory disorders to help ensure that any PD-related cognitive dysfunction is addressed within the patient’s treatment plan.

How can your neurologist help you?

Patients and care partners should be sure to mention any concerns or issues in memory or thinking with their neurologist to ensure that cognitive issues are addressed early. Please discuss any concerns regarding attention, mental processing speed, problem-solving, memory deficits, or language abnormalities with your neurologist during your appointment so that the appropriate referrals can be made.

Social Work and Counseling

Social workers provide social services, referrals, and counseling to individuals in a variety of settings to help improve their social and psychological functioning.

How can your social worker help you?

In regards to Parkinson’s disease, a clinical social worker can provide educational information as well as help coordinate resources in the community to help meet the specific needs of individuals affected by Parkinson’s. They can help individuals find financial resources (such as Medicaid and Social Security), home health services, support groups, resources for caregivers, and long-term care. Additionally, they can offer counseling or provide referrals to other practitioners/specialties when necessary.