At Stanford, Health Care, my colleague Kathleen Poston, MD, has been working on how we can image the networks involved in movement disorders. She has made great progress using PET scans and functional MRI.
In my lab, we are recording electrical signals from the basal ganglia, a group of nuclei deep in the brain that are crucial for the coordination of movement. We are making progress in being able to track the brain signals that support normal versus abnormal movement. These new techniques will make it much easier for us to design precise therapies, targeted for the individual patient’s symptoms and are based on the underlying pathophysiology.
We have developed computerized technology that helps us measure fine movements, limb movements, gait, and postural control and these will be used at the recently opened Stanford Neuroscience Health Center. Our Kinematic Lab and Balance Center, supported by some very experienced therapists, has new equipment that’s not generally available. Computerized dynamic posturography (CDP), for example, is a way to test balance in various situations. Our CDP system combines virtual reality with moving force plates that assesses in real time sensory, balance, and vestibular functions. It is the only system of its kind in the San Francisco Bay Area. The Kinematic Lab also has a type of gait analysis which is more versatile and informative than traditional systems. Our gait-tracking system analyzes the way people walk in a more natural setting, closer to the walking they do in normal life. That system makes it possible for us to be much more precise in our measurements, for both diagnosis and treatment of movement disorders.