Movement Disorders Program

Rhode Island Hospital

A Multidisciplinary Approach to Manage Movement Disorders

Movement disorders affect more than 40 million people in the United States. A movement disorder can be any condition that affects one’s ability to move, or the manner of movement. It can affect voluntary movement, as well as involuntary—which includes autonomic functions such as breathing. Movement disorders range from mild to severely debilitating, and many have very similar symptoms. It is vitally important to get a correct diagnosis.

The field of movement disorders has been revolutionized in recent years by tremendous growth in new diagnostic information, pharmacological and neurosurgical treatments, and a deeper understanding of motor control. At the Movement Disorders Program, we take a holistic approach to disease management, employing the expertise of a multidisciplinary team of specialists in neurologyneurosurgeryneuropsychologypsychiatryspeech-language pathology, occupational therapy, and physical therapy.

Treatment Offers Patient A Second Chance

Tom Cioffi thought he would have to live with Essential Tremor for the rest of his life. In a matter of a few hours and a Focused Ultrasound Treatment, his tremors were under control. Watch his story.

Treatment Options for Movement Disorders

With many types of movement disorders, treatment is specific to each disorder. Medications are usually the preferred treatment, while surgical options are available for certain severe, persistent, or degenerative conditions. We offer the latest in cutting-edge technology, and expertise in diagnosis and treatment, including:

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Contact Us

To contact the Movement Disorder Program at Rhode Island Hospital, call 401-444-6528.

When surgical procedures are determined to be the best treatment, our neurosurgeons employ state-of-the-art technologies to maximize safety and accuracy, whether implanting deep brain stimulators or using focused ultrasound waves to disrupt brain activity that causes tremors. 

To ensure that all our patients’ needs are met, the program offers numerous services that complement treatment, including nutrition, social work, nursing, and genetic counseling.

Symptoms of Movement Disorders

We all experience uncontrollable movements at times: the jitters from too much coffee, trembling from nervousness or fear, or even a case of the hiccups. However, unusual or persistent symptoms may indicate a movement disorder.

If you experience any unusual signs or symptoms, see your primary care physician for an evaluation.

Early signs and symptoms of a movement disorder include tremors, twitching, and muscle spasms.

You may have difficulty with fine motor skills, such as writing with a pen or fastening a button, or may experience muscle weakness.

Changes in gait while walking, clumsiness, and loss of balance also may point to a movement disorder.

There are many diseases that are considered movement disorders, and the causes, symptoms, and progression vary greatly. Some have minimal impact on daily activities, aren’t life-threatening, and can be well managed. Others are seriously debilitating and worsen over time. A general list of common symptoms also includes:

  • Stiffness or rigidity of limbs and trunk (spasticity)
  • Slow movement (bradykinesia)
  • Inability to move (akinesia)
  • Tightening or contraction of muscles (dystonia)
  • Swallowing and speaking difficulties
  • Cognitive and behavioral problems
  • Psychiatric symptoms accompanying progression of severe disorders
Man playing with young child in living room

Clinical Trials for Movement Disorders

Research is currently being conducted to learn more about movement disorders and how they affect our patients. 

Lifespan Locations

Over 1,620 hospitals and clinics throughout Rhode Island, here are some featured locations: