Finding the Right Doctor or Motor Specialist
What kind of doctor should I be seeing?
Many Parkinson's patients recommend working with a movement disorders specialist. This is a neurologist who has taken additional training in diseases that affect primarily physical movement, such as Parkinson's disease. Whereas a general neurologist may treat patients with any of more than 100 neurological conditions, a movement disorders specialist focuses on a handful of disorders. Specialists also often are affiliated with reputable universities or teaching hospitals.
No two cases of Parkinson's Disease are alike
Still, seeing a specialist isn't a magic bullet. Many people are treated by specialists and others are treated by general neurologists, and there are good and bad stories on both sides.
The most important element in your care is that you have as comfortable, open and productive a relationship as possible with your care provider. In choosing a doctor, your major considerations should be how much the doctor knows, and how well the doctor listens. Remember, no two cases of Parkinson's disease are alike. Having a doctor who understands this, and who listens to you, is crucial. When it comes to Parkinson's disease, "state-of-the-art" treatment could mean a new exercise regimen for one person, surgery for another.
How do I find a good movement disorders specialist?
It's a lot like hunting for a good dentist or a good mechanic: You need to ask around. Your primary care doctor may be able to give you a referral. If you attend a support group, ask other Parkinson's patients. Try contacting one of the national Parkinson's organizations. You can also post requests on Internet bulletin board sites. But remember that the Internet should only serve as a starting point for your research and education, not your only source of information, since it is so often difficult to source and verify the advice you find there.
I don't live near a teaching hospital or major city, so my doctor is a general neurologist. Any tips for me?
It can be fine to see a general neurologist who stays current with the literature and is willing to listen to you -- though you may have to take more initiative in your treatment. Parkinson's disease is different for everyone and you can't get the best care unless you're specific about what you are experiencing. It's okay to ask why particular treatments or therapies are being recommended (or not), and it's okay to get another opinion.