Movement Disorders

The term movement disorders covers a variety of neurological syndromes which are characterised by either excessive involuntary movements or a paucity of voluntary or automatic movements. Disorders characterised by excessive movement exhibit frequent, involuntary movements which interfere with normal motor activity and include dystonia, Huntington’s disease and myoclonus. Disorders characterised by a paucity of movement exhibit reduced amplitude and slowing of movement and rigidity and include Parkinson’s disease and Progressive Supranuclear Palsy.

Whilst the presenting symptoms of these disorders are primarily deficits of motor function, impairments in thinking, behaviour, and emotion regulation can also be present. The most common cognitive deficits associated with movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease is in executive functions.

Executive functions perform a role like the CEO of a company. They have the ability to plan, organise, initiate and regulate goal directed behaviour. A Parkinson’s patient may exhibit difficulty in planning, problem solving, or manipulating information in mind (e.g., performing mental arithmetic), their thinking may be significantly slowed, and they may be easily distracted.

Macquarie MindScan will conduct a comprehensive investigation, integrating information acquired through neuroimaging and cognitive assessment to generate an informed diagnosis. Imaging with MRI is frequently required to assess whether abnormalities in the brain’s blood supply are causing the cognitive changes (e.g., strokes, or other deterioration affecting the “white matter” of the brain), or to rule out hydrocephalus or a tumour. Neuropsychology provides an assessment of brain function which complements the impression of brain structure provided by MRI.

Such comprehensive cognitive testing can help pick up patterns of thinking change which help diagnose different kinds of underlying illness, and can indicate the degree of progression (a particularly useful source of information in people who are otherwise performing demanding roles, and may be showing subtle impairment). Neuropsychological review (usually after around one year) can track cognitive change over time, again informing diagnosis and potentially prognosis. In cases where MRI and neuropsychology have not provided sufficient answers to diagnostic questions, Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scans can provide vital data, showing how the brain is functioning in terms of activity.

The patients of Macquarie MindScan receive the benefit of this unique collaboration of experts across multiple fields. The team at Macquarie MindScan are committed to sharing the knowledge acquired from current research techniques to generate an advance clinical examination for neurodegenerative and other neurological disorders.

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