New Interdisciplinary Clinic Opening in Boulder + More Good News

We have a lot to celebrate this month!

Our interdisciplinary Boulder team completed the Parkinson’s Foundation Team Training. This course was designed by the Parkinson’s Foundation to increase knowledge of Parkinson’s disease. The course is also designed to encourage collaborative care. This was an intensive course that ran throughout the Spring. We look forward to enrolling more of our interdisciplinary team in the future.

Our Boulder team will begin hosting an Annual Parkinson’s Disease Interdisciplinary Clinic. This clinic is designed specifically for individuals with Parkinson’s disease. During this annual visit, patients receive a standardized set of evaluations by their movement disorders specialist, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Speech Therapy. The goal is for people with Parkinson’s disease to go through this clinic yearly. This will assist in tracking the progression of Parkinson’s disease more accurately and integrate the perspectives of the interdisciplinary team when offering our recommendations for activity-based and pharmacological treatments. Our hope is that this input will help patients maintain their optimal function and quality of life. This clinic is also offered at our Anschutz Medical Campus.

Congratulations to Michelle Fullard, MD and Isabelle Buard, PhD for receiving the University of Colorado Department of Neurology’s Intradepartmental Grant. This award has been offered since early 2016 to assistant and associate professors. This grant is designed to give the junior faculty a jumpstart on new research years and allows for protected time to prepare a grant application, write a peer-reviewed journal article, develop collaborations and/or perform any other research task that may otherwise be challenging because of time.

Dr. Buard’s research is “Investigating cortical sleep patterns disruption after traumatic brain injury under the mentorship of Dr. Benzi Kluger and Dr. Jeff Hebert. Dr. Fullard will conduct Examining gender differences in therapy preferences and risk tolerance in Parkinson disease” under the mentorship of Dr. Maureen Leehey. Dr. Fullard recently completed an interview with Davis Phinney Foundation about “Removing Barriers to Deep Brain Stimulation for Women with Parkinson’s.” You can watch the full interview on YouTube on Davis Phinney Foundation’s channel.

Dr. Forbes Accepted to Clinical Faculty Scholars Program

Congratulations to Dr. Emily Forbes on her acceptance into the Colorado Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute’s (CCTSI) Clinical Faculty Scholars Program (CFSP). This program enrolls up to five junior faculty members each year. The program helps young researchers obtain grant funding for their career growth or their first independent investigator-initiated project. Often these are K-awards or R-awards which are funded by the NIH. These can also be awards from large non-profit organizations. The CCTSI trains these budding researchers through guided project development, educational seminars, grant writing classes, and mentorship participation.

Dr. Forbes’s project will build a Neurogenetics database. The first goal will be to characterize genetic causes of Parkinson’s disease in the University of Colorado’s patient population. She will follow this group over time to see how they respond to treatment based on their genetic variant. She will build this database to include phenotypic (observable characteristics) and genotypic (genetic characteristics) information across different specialties in Neurology. This will lead to a department resource for genetics research. Her long-term aim is to develop a tool to advance fair and the best genetic testing for patients. This will also help to provide thorough genetic counseling. This tool will make clinical trials for disease-modifying treatments available to more patients and quicken the rate of developing new therapies. Additionally, it will widen the availability of clinical trials to patient populations.

Other Movement faculty alumni of the CFSP program include Dr. Michelle Fullard and Dr. Samantha Holden and former movement disorders faculty, Dr. Brian Berman, and Dr. Benzi Kluger.

Being part of a medical school means that in addition to seeing patients, our faculty are also involved in additional pursuits. One of these pursuits is conducting clinical research related to their field. Most research falls into two categories: clinical trials and investigator-initiated research. Clinical trials are a type of clinical research that aims to determine the safety and effectiveness of the medication, devices, and treatment regimens. Investigator-initiated research starts with new ideas that the researcher comes up with themself. The researcher then is responsible for creating a trial to test their idea and then carrying out the trial. All research must adhere to strict rules and regulations. You can read more about the research here.

Research Update | The Relationship Between Olfactory Dysfunction and Constipation in Early Parkinson’s Disease

Written by Alex Baumgartner, MD

In a recent issue of the journal Movement Disorders, colleagues and I published a study examining the relationship between two of the most common ‘non-motor’ symptoms of Parkinson’s disease (PD): decreased sense of smell (olfactory dysfunction) and constipation. It has been known for some time that these symptoms often start several years or even decades before the typical ‘motor’ symptoms of PD, which include tremor, stiffness, and slow movement. Going along with this, accumulation of the abnormal protein alpha-synuclein, which is thought to play a critical role in the development of PD, have been found in the nasal passages and GI tracts of PD patients before it is found in the brain. This has led many to hypothesize that PD may actually begin in the nose or in the gut and spread from there to the brain.

We wanted to explore whether we could find evidence that for some people, PD begins in the nasal passages while in other people, it begins in the gut. We hypothesized that if people had PD originating in the nasal passages only, they would have only loss of smell and not constipation. On the other hand, if PD originated in the GI tract only, they would have constipation but not loss of smell. We looked at data from the Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI), which collects information from patients who have recently been diagnosed with PD.

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We found that at the time people are diagnosed with PD, they tend to have problems with smelling and constipation to similar degrees. That is, people with worse sense of smell also tend to have worse constipation, and those with minimal loss of smell tend to have mild constipation. This finding actually went against our hypothesis. There may be a few reasons for this. The first is that the time of diagnosis of PD (based on tremor, slowness, and stiffness) may be too late to detect a difference in smell and constipation. Even if PD begins in either the nose or the gut, symptoms in the other location may have already ‘caught up’ with the first. The second possible explanation is that PD may begin in both locations at about the same time. This is called the dual-hit hypothesis, and has gained popularity in recent years. In the future, we hope to expand our research to help elucidate where and when the earliest signs of Parkinson’s occur.

My Life with Parkinsonism

This piece was written by Janet Raban. We are excited to share her story and look forward to sharing more stories here as well. Below, Ms. Raban shares her experience and some words of inspiration. Thank you, Ms. Raban, for sharing.


In November 2001, I experienced my first symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease (PD), a slight tremor of the ring finger and pinky of my right hand. My primary care physician referred me to a neurologist and the journey began. The neurologist insisted I had MS and put me through a battery of tests that included two brain MRIs, one cervical MRI, and a spinal tap, none of which exhibited any plaquing in the spinal fluid (a sure sign of MS), yet she persisted. So, I asked to be referred to the guru of all MS specialists in Denver, that being Dr. John Corboy at UCHealth. This was my first lesson in advocating for myself, which has become routine since that day. The rationale for self-advocacy is it keeps you in touch with your emotions, your physical health, and your sense of control over the circumstances.

After only five minutes with Dr. Corboy, he reassured me that I did NOT have MS and sent me to see his “colleague across the hall.” Dr. Maureen Leehey, a movement disorders specialist, has not only treated my Parkinsonism since then day I met her but has become a dear friend. At one point, she asked if I was interested in a drug trial for patients who were recently diagnosed and had not started on any PD drugs. That was my first foray into drug trials that have since spanned the course of my disease.

Critical to the management of my disease was my support system, namely my husband, Ed. He has been by my side every step of the way. He has attended a majority of appointments that I had over these last 20 years. We even traveled to Connecticut for one drug trial. He has been my rock, especially when I found myself in the depths of despair or just to listen to my rantings with a cool head and a loving heart.         

Have there been moments of despair? Yes, of course, but they have been far outweighed by times of hope in the great advances in my overall health (thanks to the expert administration of appropriate medications at the right time by Dr. Leehey) and to research and surgery. After more than 20 years with PD, I decided to have Deep Brain Surgery (DBS). I was maxing out on my meds and DBS offered me the opportunity to reduce the amount of medication I was taking and a device that also enabled me to have some modicum of control over my disease. I have always told my daughter that the measure of your character is in how you deal with adversity. Meet it head-on!

You must advocate for yourself. You can’t let the disease control your life. You have to at least TRY to control IT. So, as a result, I decided on the surgery. A window of opportunity opened, and I climbed in. Your expectations may be higher than mine. Your fears may be greater than mine. Your lifestyle may be different than mine. But what we do have in common is an insidious disease, a disease that intimidates, instills fear, a disease that saps your energy and hope for a “normal” future. Be courageous, self-advocate, and ask lots of questions, that’s the only way you can get the answers you need to decide how your future will play out. You can control it, you may not overcome it, but you have a choice as to how you handle it. I made a choice to have DBS surgery and I don’t regret it. You have choices too. Be courageous, take the leap of faith, trust your doctors to help you make those decisions. You won’t regret it either.   

Board Certification

Congratulations to our two first-year fellows, Alex Baumgartner, MD and Michael Korsmo, MD, for passing their neurology board examinations through the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology!

When we select fellows for our training program, they must be eligible to take these board examinations. This means they must meet all of the minimum requirements to take the exam by the start of their fellowship training. Fellows typically take the test towards the end of their first semester which is the earliest the test is offered.

Board certifications are important because they promote and assess the competence of physicians when beginning and throughout their careers. Board-certified physicians must provide proof that they are continuing their education through Continuing Medical Education credits and are recertified at set intervals throughout their career.

While board certifications are not required to practice medicine, they are an extra step many physicians choose to take. The certifications demonstrate the physicians are keeping up with the most recent advancements in their specialties and their desire to provide high-quality care to their patients. Board certifications are specific to each specialty and therefore maintain more specific standards to maintain certifcation.

All of the movement disorders specialists at the University of Colorado Movement Disorders Center are board-certified in neurology.

Say congratulations to our fellows if you see them in clinic!

Welcome to Our New Fellows

The Movement Disorders Center values training the next generation of movement disorders specialist. We host medical students and neurology residents. In addition, our movement disorders center section hosts a fellowship program.

Our fellows have completed their medical training in Neurology and have elected to deepen their expertise in movement disorders. We’d like to give a warm welcome to our newest first-year fellows, Dr. Alexander Baumgartner and Dr. Michael Korsmo.

movement disorders specialist colorado

Dr. Baumgartner was born and raised in Lakewood, CO. He obtained his medical degree from Brown University in Providence, RI. He completed his residency training at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center/Harvard Medical School in Boston. During his residency, he served as chief resident in his final year. He is excited to being a fellowship in Movement Disorders in July 2020 and to be returning home to Colorado.

Dr. Korsmo completed his medical education at Tulane University School of Medicine and completed residency training at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. While in residency, he created and launched the university’s first Global Health Neurology rotation with the first site n Malawi. He also served as Chief Resident of Education where he restructured their introductory “Boot Camp” and Morning Report sessions. Beyond Movement Disorders, his interests include education, clinical reasoning, and global/rural health.

movement disorders specialist colorado

Dr. Baumgartner and Dr. Korsmo join Dr. Teresa Lee who is completing her second year of fellowship. We look forward to working with our new fellows. Say hello when you see them in clinic.

Farewell to our Fellows!

Join us in celebrating the graduates of our University of Colorado Movement Disorders Fellowship. We wish them the best of luck.

Jeanne Feuerstein, MD

Jeanne Feuerstein Movement Disorders FellowshipDuring her two-year fellowship, Jeanne Feuerstein, MD accomplished so much. She received the University of Colorado Movement Disorders Center Pilot Grant and two travel awards to attend international conferences. During the Movement Disorders Society’s 2019 International Congress, Dr. Feuerstein presented a case study which also resulted in a forthcoming publication. Also, she was the first author on two published abstracts and one upcoming publication. She co-led a local PD-SELF group during her first year. In addition, Dr. Feuerstein became a first-time mother. After her fellowship, we are excited that she will be joining the University of Colorado Movement Disorders faculty as an Assistant Professor focusing on a role at the VA.

Lisa Deuel, MD

Lisa Deuel Movement Disorders FellowshipLisa Deuel, MD began her fellowship with us in 2018 and she has had a very successful two years at the University of Colorado. Lisa presented two abstracts at international conferences – the 2020 American Academy of Neurology Annual Meeting and the 2019 International Movement Disorders Congress. She was awarded the Movement Disorders Center Pilot Grant Award to study “Sex Disparities in deep brain stimulation for patients with essential tremor.” She published two case reports in peer-reviewed journals. In addition, she was a co-moderator of a PD-SELF group in Denver. Dr. Deuel will be starting as an Assistant Professor at the University of Vermont Medical Center where she will work as a Movement Disorders specialist and serve as the fellowship director.

Caroline Goldin, MD

Caroline Goldin Movement Disorders FellowshipCaroline Goldin, MD joined our team as a fellow in the summer of 2019. During the past year, Dr. Goldin co-wrote a chapter on the treatment of Parkinson disease for a physical medicine & rehabilitation textbook. She began to build a best practice review for the University of Colorado Hospital’s electronic medical practice. This review will work to stop Parkinson disease patients from getting the wrong medications when they are hospitalized. She led a team of many specialists in writing a paper about the use of neuropalliative care for deep brain stimulation patients. Dr. Goldin will start a neuro-oncology fellowship at the University of Colorado in July 2020 to add to her movement disorders training.

Teresea Lee, MD

Teresa Lee  Movement Disorders Fellowship

During her first year, Teresa Lee, MD received the Movement Disorders Center Pilot Grant Award for her research with DBS and smartphone applications. She presented an online poster on wellness in Neurology residents at the 2020 American Academy of Neurology Annual Meeting. She spoke at the University of Colorado Movement Disorders Center’s Annual Parkinson Disease Symposium. She also presented a webinar for the Parkinson Association of the Rockies on COVID-19 and Parkinson Disease. Dr. Lee is also enrolled in the Master of Public Health program with a focus in global health and epidemiology. Dr. Lee is staying with us to complete another year of fellowship.

We wish them the best and looking forward to seeing what they accomplish.

Upcoming Events for Parkinson Disease

upcoming events for parkinson disease

The faculty and staff of the Movement Disorders Center has moved online for many things. Many of our upcoming events for Parkinson disease community have also been moved online. We miss meeting in person but have been able to continue our collaborations and work.

One of the great things we have found through these tough times is the ability to connect with other groups and organizations. We have been working virtually with groups throughout Colorado and throughout the country. Our community has access to more information and more resources.

Upcoming Events for Parkinson Disease | Movement Disorders Center

Deep Brain Stimulation for Parkinson Disease and Essential Tremor

Dr. Drew Kern is hosting a webinar about Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) for Essential Tremor and Parkinson disease. The webinar will be Thursday, May 21, 2020 at 10:00 AM MT.

Dr. Kern will talk about the DBS process, different products available, and the benefits and risks of surgery.

The webinar is free, but please register here before. After registering, you will get a confirmation email with instructions to join the webinar.

Upcoming Events for Parkinson Disease | Parkinson’s Foundation (PF)

Care Partner Summit

The Parkinson Foundation summit will take place virtually on Saturday, May 16th from 12:00 pm- 3:30 pm ET (10:00 am – 1:30 pm). This year’s Summit will focus on the unique journey of a care partner, with our theme: Planning for the Unpredictable Path of Parkinson’s Caregiving.

A timely topic during the COVID-19 pandemic, the speakers and care partners are ready to share their insight and encouragement to those caring for someone living with Parkinson’s disease (PD). We recognize the hard work that goes into caregiving and we want to create this space for them to share their life lessons, learn from each other and grow in their self-care skills.

The summit will be online only, and individuals may register for English or Spanish. The Care Partner Summit will be focused on the following topics:

  • Cognitive Changes
  • Mental Health
  • Self-Care
  • Practical Planning

PD Health @ Home

During this challenging and often isolating time of social distancing, now more than ever PF recognizes the importance for people within the Parkinson’s community to stay active, connect with each other, and receive support no matter their physical location.

Visit Parkinson.org/PDHealth for a full list of events. Participants can register for virtual community engagement events of interest and put them on their calendars.  You can join PF for these upcoming events:

Mindfulness Mondays
Start your week with calmness, as you take part in guided relaxation techniques to help boost brain power and reduce stress. Sign up now. View past events.

Expert Briefings Tuesdays
Taking place in home offices across the nation, the PF will host webinars about the PD topics that matter most to you. Sign up now. View past events.

Wellness Wednesdays
Join us at noon for a Facebook Live event or a PD-related educational video that will highlight PD awareness, research, or treatments. Follow us on Facebook now. View past events.

Take Time Thursdays
Choose from several virtual events taking place across local chapters. Engage with a PD expert on the topics that matter most to you ― from exercise, nutrition, stress management, and more. Sign up now. View past events.

Fitness Fridays
This PD-tailored 10-part fitness series will feature a new focus every week, from balance to coordination, posture, and more. Watch each 12-minute session from home as many times as you wish. Watch now!

Consult with your healthcare team before beginning any new physical activity, including online exercise classes and programs. The Parkinson’s Foundation is in no way liable or responsible for injuries sustained from online classes.

PD Health @ Home will be held from April 6 to June 11. Find all PD Health @ Home programs here. Register for the events that interest you and put them on your calendar. New to virtual events? Read our guide here.

Resources That are Always Available
The Parkinson’s Foundation is dedicated to empowering the PD community through education. Below are additional resources always available to you:

  • PD Conversations
  • Parkinson’s Today Blog
  • Bilingual Helpline 1-800-4PD-INFO (473-4636) Weekdays 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET.
  • Follow us on Facebook
  • Substantial Matters Podcast
  • Expert Briefing Webinars

Stay healthy and well!

Update on Annual Events + Another Congrats!

annual events update

An Update on Our Annual Events

The Movement Disorders Center hosts many annual events. The safety of our attendees is always a priority. However, COVID-19 brings additional concerns. Because of this, we are constantly re-evaluating the safety of our events.

In light of this, we have postponed our annual Huntington’s Disease conference. Please save our new date of September 26, 2020. We hope to host this event in person, but you can look for updates on the Events page. We will provide informatino in a timely manner.

At this time, we are still going forward as planned with our 7th Annual Parkinson Disease Conference on October 3, 2020. We will continue to keep you updated on any changes.

We know these annual events are important to the community and will work hard to make sure you receive the benefits they offer.

Congratulations!

Congratulations to Dr. Christina Vaughan and the Neuropalliative team. Dr. Vaughan and her team received the Fast-Track Grant Response: COVID-1 award. She received full funding from the Adria Foundation.

This will allow Dr. Vaughan to proactively reach out to her patients and their families in the face of COVID-19. It will also provide temporary tele-health equipment for those who need it. Her hope is that reaching out to patients will provide the following benefits:

  • Prevent unneeded trips to the emergency room
  • Prevent symptoms from getting worse
  • Identify families in need of food and/or supplies
  • Identify emotional or spiritual concerns.

Again, congratulations to Dr. Vaughan and her team!

Dr. Holden Awarded Funding to Study Dementia with Lewy Bodies

Congratulations to Dr. Samantha Holden! Dr. Holden was awarded the University of Colorado Department of Neurology’s Intradepartmental Grant. She was given this support for her study “The eyes have it: a pilot study of wearable eye-tracking metrics as a clinical marker of cognitive fluctuations in dementia with Lewy bodies.”

Dr. Holden will lead this study under the guidance of Dr. Victoria Pelak. Dr. Holden and Dr. Pelak serve as co-directors of the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus Lewy Body Dementia Association Center of Excellence.

Dr. Holden’s Demetia with Lewy Bodies Study

Cognitive fluctuations are periods of time when a person is less alert and aware (i.e. “zoned out”). They are very common and happen often in people with dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB). The fluctuations can also occur in other forms of dementia but happen more often and cause more problems in peple with DLB. Cognitive fluctuations are one of the four main features of DLB. Other key features are parkinsonism, visual hallucinations, and REM behavior disorder.

Unfortunately, even though they are common, we have no good way to keep track of cognitive fluctuations in people with DLB. Right now we depend on people who know the person well to see it happening and report it to their doctors. This is not ideal and has led to difficulty in both diagnosing and treating DLB. For example, it may look like a new treatment for DLB is not working when it actually is because the person with DLB had a fluctuation during their memory testing and no one else noticed.

We know there are specific patterns of eye movement changes linked with lack of sleep and its associated “zoning out” spells in people without DLB. Dr. Holden’s study will see if there are also changes in the eye movements of people with DBL during their cognitive fluctuations. She will use wearable eye-tracking glasses to study the eye movements of people with DLB while they are at rest and during memory testing. The study will also compare the eye movements of people with DBL to people with Alzheimer’s disease, and to older adults without any memory changes. If these glasses work, eye tracking devices could catch cognitive fluctuations as they are happening in a reliable way. This would lead to the right adjustments in treatment or testing for DLB in response.

COVID-19 Updates

Our fellow Teresa Lee, MD and Associate Professor Lauren Seeberger, MD, FAAN gave an on-line presentation on COVID-19 and Parkinson disease for the Parkinson’s Association of the Rockies. You can watch it at any time.

The Parkinson’s Foundation is offering ways to stay connected to the Parkinson’s community online. They are offering exercise and educational events online. To see the full list of classes, please visit their website.

If you don’t already have one, please make sure you order your Aware in Care kit. These kits help you prepare for planned and unplanned hospitalizations. Be sure to update your medication lists.

We hope you continue to stay well.