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UT Health San Antonio now recognized Parkinson’s Care Center.

UT Health San Antonio now recognized Parkinson’s Care Center.

The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio Designated as a Parkinson’s Foundation Comprehensive Care Center

SAN ANTONIO (July 26, 2023) — The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UT Health San Antonio) has been recognized as a Parkinson’s Foundation Comprehensive Care Center, becoming the first of its kind in Texas. This expansion of the Parkinson’s Foundation’s Global Care Network includes the addition of four Centers of Excellence and four Comprehensive Care Centers, with UT Health San Antonio being acknowledged in the latter category. The designation acknowledges the exceptional care provided to individuals with Parkinson’s disease in a wide geographical area.

Specialized Team and Comprehensive Care

The center offers a specialized team of medical professionals, including neurologists, movement disorder specialists, physical and occupational therapists, mental health professionals, and others. These experts stay updated on the latest Parkinson’s disease medications, therapies, and research to provide the best possible care to patients.

Each Parkinson’s Foundation Comprehensive Care Center must meet strict criteria in terms of care, professional training, community education, and outreach. UT Health San Antonio is honored to receive this recognition and is committed to offering its expertise to the people of San Antonio and South Texas.

Expert Neurologists

The movement disorders program at UT Health San Antonio boasts three fellowship-trained movement disorders neurologists who serve patients at the UT Health Physicians neurology practice:

  • Okeanis Vaou, MD – Associate Professor and Movement Disorders Program Director, specializing in deep brain stimulation and sleep medicine
  • Sarah Horn, MD – Assistant Professor and Maj. Gen. Ret. Joe and Patty Robles Professorship in Parkinson’s Disease, specializing in the treatment of Parkinson’s dementia, treatment of hallucinations, and deep brain stimulation
  • Pablo Coss, MD – Assistant Professor, specializing in Huntington’s disease and leading the team’s Huntington’s Disease Center of Excellence, as well as deep brain stimulation

Increased Demand for Parkinson’s Care

It is estimated that the number of people living with Parkinson’s disease in the U.S. will reach 1.2 million by 2030. The Parkinson’s Foundation is dedicated to ensuring that all individuals with the disease can access the necessary care and support to improve their health and quality of life.

John L. Lehr, President and CEO of the Parkinson’s Foundation, expressed pride in expanding the Global Care Network, stating that it recognizes providers who offer exceptional care in their communities. The newly designated centers contribute to a network that is setting the highest standard of care for people with Parkinson’s in the U.S. and internationally.

Services and Research

The movement disorders program at UT Health San Antonio specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of various movement disorders, including Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor, dystonias, Huntington’s disease, and Tic Disorders. The center offers therapies such as botulinum toxin injections, medications, and deep brain stimulation.

Additionally, the program is actively involved in clinical research studies, investigating topics such as controlling tremor with medications, genetic causes of Parkinson’s disease, delaying disease progression, preventing bone fractures from falls, and treating hallucinations and Parkinson’s dementia. The center is enrolling participants for upcoming clinical trials.

Multidisciplinary Approach

The movement disorders program benefits from a strong multidisciplinary team that includes physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech pathologists, rehabilitation medicine specialists, neuropsychologists, social workers, and genetic counselors. This team ensures comprehensive evaluation and counseling for patients.

The center also offers a movement disorders fellowship to train new movement disorder specialists who have completed their neurology residency programs. The fellowship director is Sarah Horn.

The Advancement of Deep Brain Stimulation

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) was approved for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease in 2002. Over the past decade, significant advancements have been made in DBS technology. UT Health San Antonio’s movement disorders program collaborates with Alexander Papanastassiou, MD, who implants DBS electrodes in the brain through minimally invasive surgery.

DBS allows for precise stimulation and the collection of objective patient data, leading to more personalized and effective therapy. With electronic diaries of movement symptoms, healthcare providers can analyze the recordings over time and adjust therapy settings accordingly. This represents a significant improvement over previous DBS programming methods that relied on the patient’s memory and narrative of symptoms.

Five-Year Certification

Every Parkinson’s Foundation Comprehensive Care Center must recertify after five years to maintain the highest standards of care. UT Health San Antonio strives to continue providing exceptional care to individuals with Parkinson’s disease and intends to uphold the designation.

About UT Health San Antonio

UT Health San Antonio is the largest academic research institution in South Texas, driving significant economic impact with its professional schools, diverse workforce, and clinical practices that serve millions of patients annually. The institution plans to create more high-wage jobs to better serve the San Antonio area, as well as Bexar County and South Texas.

For more information about UT Health San Antonio and its mission to improve lives, visit Stay connected with the institution on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube.

To schedule an appointment with a physician from the center or to inquire about clinical trials, please call 210-450-8830.


About Leif Larsen

Join Leif Larsen, our science blogger extraordinaire, on a journey of discovery through the fascinating worlds of climate change, earth science, energy, environment, and space exploration. With a wealth of knowledge and a passion for exploring the mysteries of the universe, Leif delivers insightful and thought-provoking posts that offer a unique perspective on the latest developments in the world of science. Read him to unlock the secrets of the natural world, from the deepest oceans to the furthest reaches of the cosmos!

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