An ever-growing enterprise, the Virginia Commonwealth University Parkinson’s and Movement Disorders Center recently moved into an expanded space. Still located in the Billy Reynolds Jr. Building (6605 W. Broad Street), the center needed an updated space to accommodate more room for clinical care, ongoing research projects, education for patients and families and additional student trainees.
The new space unites clinician investigators in one common area, allowing for collaboration among the interdisciplinary team members. There are more examination and consultation rooms, allowing for designated clinical research space. Also included is a state-of-the-art physical therapy space with new diagnostic equipment for evaluating gait and balance. The suite was designed with the comfort of patients, families and research volunteers in mind.
In support of the center’s education mission, a conference room can accommodate small community functions and support groups onsite. Areas for student trainees to work and learn also were built into the new space. The center moved from a 2,300-square-foot space to a more spacious 8,300-square-foot facility.
“We literally moved down the hall from our previous space in the building, but the new location accommodates clinical care and patient comfort as well as designated areas for ongoing clinical trials as we work to find better treatments for movement disorders,” said James Bennett Jr., director of the VCU Parkinson’s and Movement Disorders and the Bemiss Professor of Neurology in the VCU School of Medicine.
The center’s interdisciplinary team combines clinical evaluation and treatment, research and education and outreach to provide a coordinated approach for developing strategies that combat movement disorders and neurodegenerative disorders.
“By integrating clinical research with clinical care, teams of investigators from various disciplines attack the full spectrum of these complex disorders,” Bennett said. “The characterization of symptoms and their progression in the patient population fuels new concepts for investigation in our basic laboratories.”
Among the center’s four main programs are the Clinical Multidisciplinary Diagnostic and Therapeutic Program, the Translational Laboratory-based Research Program, the Clinical-Translational Research Program and the Education and Outreach Program.
The Clinical Multidisciplinary Diagnostic and Therapeutic Program provides clinical diagnosis and care for Parkinson’s and related movement disorder patients. Recent evidence suggests that Parkinson’s is a brain-wide disease with multiple potentially disabling conditions beyond the movement symptoms. Therefore, treatment for Parkinson’s requires coordinated care by doctors from several disciplines.
The program offers a unique clinical resource where each patient is evaluated by movement disorder neurologists, neuropsychologists and physical therapists, with access to neurosurgical therapies and psychiatry also available.
The Translational Laboratory-based Research Program focuses on studying Parkinson’s disease at the molecular level. The program includes testing promising new disease-altering therapies in cell and preclinical models.
The Clinical-Translational Research Program bridges the development of promising therapies emerging from the laboratory with experimental therapies for patients through clinical trials.
The Education and Outreach Program partners with community members to improve the quality of life for those affected by movement disorders by hosting events to share coping strategies and the latest research findings. The program also trains the next generation of health care professionals and researchers.
“Partnering with the movement disorders community develops the most promising research and treatments that make the biggest impact,” Bennett said. “Each community member brings valuable perspective and knowledge to the center.”
About VCU and the VCU Medical Center: Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls nearly 31,000 students in 222 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Sixty-six of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 13 schools and one college. MCV Hospitals and the health sciences schools of Virginia Commonwealth University compose the VCU Medical Center, one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers.