Finding the right provider for Parkinson’s disease treatment often involves some trial and error. To start, many people with Parkinson’s see several doctors before getting a final diagnosis. After a diagnosis, it may take more time to settle on the right neurologist.
You need to ask around. Your doctor may be a good place to start. Or ask people in your support group, if you attend one, whom they see. You can also try contacting one of the state based Parkinson’s organisations.
Many people with Parkinson’s also see specialists like physical therapists or nutritionists. As the disease changes, some may also consider bringing in new experts.
Of course, identifying providers can be a challenge in itself. The area you live in may not have many neurologists, especially ones who specialise in Parkinson’s disease. You may also be restricted by your health insurance plan.
Below are some tips to help you on your journey to find a doctor who is the right fit for you.
Movement Disorder Specialist
If you’re not already seeing a movement disorder specialist, consider connecting with one. Movement disorder specialists are neurologists with extra training in Parkinson’s disease. They’re often on the cutting-edge of Parkinson’s research and can help build the best treatment plan.
Learn from others
Talk to other people with Parkinson’s disease. A local support group can be a great place to hear about others’ experiences with their doctors. Your Parkinson’s organisation in your state may also be able to assist with suggestions.
If you live in a smaller town that doesn’t have a movement disorder specialist nearby, consider travelling farther to see one a few times a year. Meeting with an expert in Parkinson’s, even if it’s brief, can give you tools and advice you can use the rest of the year.
Understand Your Symptoms
If you’re not able to see a different doctor, try improving your conversation with your current provider. Make a chart of your symptoms so you have a record to share, write down questions ahead of time and bring your care partner along for support.
Add other professionals to your care team. A physical therapist who specialises in Parkinson’s disease, for example, could have a fresh approach to your symptoms. Nutritionists can help people with Parkinson’s improve diet.
Some people may wait to see a movement disorder specialist until later in their disease course. However, seeing this specialist early in your treatment could help you plan for your care in the future, prepare for potential changes in your Parkinson’s and adapt to these changes as they happen. Movement disorder specialists also can connect you with clinical studies to help scientists learn more about Parkinson’s and how to treat it.