By Todd Taylor
In April, the UF Progressive Supranuclear Palsy & Atypical Parkinsonism Clinic was designated the first CurePSP Center of Care in Florida, joining an elite group including Cleveland Clinic and Johns Hopkins Medicine.
Seven years ago, Nikolaus McFarland, M.D., Ph.D., an assistant professor of neurology and chief of the movement disorders division, co-founded the clinic — housed within The Fixel Center for Neurological Diseases at UF Health — to provide dedicated care, education, research opportunities and hope for patients who have conditions that remain a mystery to many medical professionals.
McFarland holds UF’s Wright/Falls/Simmons Professorship in PSP/Atypical Parkinson’s and directs a clinical-research program in collaboration with Chris Hass, Ph.D., a professor of applied physiology and kinesiology.
“Many patients with these conditions and their caregivers don’t know where to turn and this designation identifies centers that provide multidisciplinary care with specialists who are knowledgeable in these diseases,” McFarland said. “It lets them know that they aren’t alone.”
McFarland’s clinic provides interdisciplinary care and resources for patients who have atypical Parkinsonism syndromes, including progressive supranuclear palsy, multiple system atrophy, corticobasal degeneration and dementia with Lewy bodies.
These conditions have symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease, but they present with more rapid disease progression and severity. Additionally, medical treatments are often less effective for those with these syndromes compared to patients with Parkinson’s disease. Despite growing recognition of these syndromes, many patients go undiagnosed, or potentially misdiagnosed, for years before getting the right diagnosis —delaying proper treatment.
The CurePSP Center of Care designation will allow the clinic’s faculty and staff to build on the multidisciplinary care provided to UF Health patients, including access to physical, occupational and speech therapists; psychiatrists and neuropsychologists; and social workers. Caregivers are provided educational and emotional support, as well as information about the latest research developments.
“There’s a lot of research going on and new clinical trials,” McFarland said. “We’ve become greatly involved in this at UF and it’s an exciting time for us. We want to educate patients and caregivers so they can make the right choices about trials that can benefit them.”
McFarland envisions his clinic becoming a hub in Florida for patients with these conditions, linking other movement disorders centers and CurePSP Center of Care in the state — as they emerge over time — to foster research collaborations, education and to provide patients with more options for care and support.
Learn more about the UF Progressive Supranuclear Palsy & Atypical Parkinsonism Clinic at https://movementdisorders.ufhealth.org/for-patients/clinics/uf-progressive-supranuclear-palsy-atypical-parkinsonism-clinic/.