Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center

Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center

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Parkinson’s disease is a slow-progressing, chronic neurological condition that can cause tremor, slowness of movement, stiffness, and gait or balance problems.

Parkinson’s takes a devastating toll on both patients and their loved ones. At first, those diagnosed with Parkinson’s can experience tremors, rigidity, and changes in gait. As the disease advances, they become prone to serious injuries from loss of balance and falling. Parkinson’s patients also experience symptoms such as sleep trouble, memory loss, hallucinations, and anxiety, which can drastically impact their quality of life.

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0 Americans are affected with Parkinson’s disease
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Parkinson’s Research Connects the Mind, Body, and Spirit

The Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center at Barrow offers comprehensive care and support services to patients and their families while conducting research into new treatments for the disease. It is the only Parkinson’s Foundation Center of Excellence in the Southwest. It is also a Huntington’s Disease Center of Excellence and a Lewy Body Dementia Association Research Center of Excellence.

See what we achieved in research and patient care last year by downloading the FY23 Parkinson’s Stewardship Report below.


Comprehensive Care and Support Services

The Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center is the most comprehensive center of its kind in the nation. Barrow neurologists and neurosurgeons are world leaders in deep brain stimulation surgery and treatment for managing the symptoms of movement disorders. In addition to surgical treatment, patients are offered a wide range of recreational therapies, such as group exercise classes and art workshops, and educational classes and support groups that benefit the mind, body and spirit.

Thanks to a generous donation from The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation, the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center is taking its innovative care into the homes of housebound patient utilizing telemedicine through the Lonnie and Muhammad Ali Legacy Care Program. The program brings the same high quality care that Muhammad Ali received to patients throughout Arizona.

Integrating Parkinson’s Research and Care

In addition to providing integrative patient care, Barrow neurologists and scientists are also conducting revolutionary research. Barrow scientists are currently involved in more than a dozen clinical trials and research studies, making great strides in treating the symptoms of Parkinson’s and working towards halting the disease.

Justine Chan, MD, who completed her neurology residency and a movement disorders fellowship at Barrow, is working on a study that aims to identify predictors and protective factors of severe outcomes in advanced Parkinson’s, including uncontrolled motor and non-motor symptoms, increased emergency room visits, and caregiver strain. Through this study, Dr. Chan hopes to help develop standards of care for patients with advanced Parkinson’s.

Research Advancements

Gene Therapy

Fredric Manfredsson, PhD, is using gene therapy to deliver the protein ACMSD the kynurenine metabolic pathway to see if it will both reduce the production of harmful molecules and facilitate the production of a neuroprotective compound.

Environmental Risk Factors

Brad Racette, MD, FAAN, has been collaborating with researchers in South Africa to study manganese toxicity and other Parkinson’s risk factors affecting rural communities. His research into the neurological risk factors associated with manganese mining in South Africa was recently featured in an article by The Washington Post.

Stem Cell Therapy

Holly Shill, MD, FAAN, is collaborating with a researcher at Arizona State University on a first-of-its-kind clinical trial that utilizes stem cell therapy to reverse the motor symptoms of Parkinson’s. The clinical trial will be tested in Parkinson’s patients who have a specific mutation in the gene parkin.

Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS)

Guillermo Moguel-Cobos, MD, is working on a study to measure the effectiveness of DBS in the pedunculopontine nucleus (PPN) on gait, balance, and attention in Parkinson’s patients. He aims to see if this helps reduce falls and make some aspects of gait better.