Goals of the Neurodegenerative Disorders Division are to improve the lives of those with neurodegenerative diseases while developing new, novel, and more effective treatments. Among the faculty are physicians who specialize in the diagnosis and management of many neurodegenerative disorders, as well as physicians and scientists with active neurodegenerative disease research programs.
In some cases, mutations in particular genes can give rise to a particular disease. In most cases, though, a specific mutation is not present although an increased susceptibility to a disease can still be inherited. Environmental and lifestyle factors can play a role. For the diseases in which we do know the specific cause, more research is still needed to understand why a specific cause ultimately gives rise to a specific disease. For the diseases in which the specific cause is still unclear, it is hoped further research will provide new etiologic insights.
The first step is a careful review of the presenting history and a thorough examination. For some disease, specific tests can prove a particular disease either is or is not present. For some disorders, tests may not be definitive but can still indicate whether a particular diagnosis is more or less likely to be the case. For other diseases, accurate tests are not available and the diagnosis depends almost exclusively on the physician's impression.
Although most neurodegenerative diseases cannot be cured, in many cases treatments are available that can improve an affected patient's quality of life. Sometimes symptoms can be effectively addressed for limited but sometimes also extended periods of time, and experimental treatments to modify the pathologies that underlie different neurodegenerative diseases are being actively developed.