The ability to walk safely, easily, and in an aesthetically pleasing manner is
a skill learned early and highly prized. Although it is typically taken for
granted, gait is key to mobility and functional independence and at the
core of our ability to carry out many activities of daily living. In older adults
and patients with neurological deficits, ease and safety in walking may
become compromised, and gait is often viewed as abnormal, i.e., as a disorder.
While not an inevitable part of aging, gait disorders are common
among older adults and in patients with neurological disease.
There has been a major resurgence in stereotactic neurosurgery for the treatment
of Parkinson’s disease and tremor in the past several years. More recently,
interest has also been rekindled in stereotactic neurosurgery for the treatment of
dystonia and other movement disorders.
The field of movement disorders is relatively broad, encompassing disorders of increased
movement, such as tremors, dystonia, and tics, to disorders characterized by a
paucity of movement, such as Parkinson’s disease. Our understanding of the pathogenic
mechanisms and our treatment options are expanding at a rapid pace. This expansion
ranges from the medical and surgical advances in treating Parkinson’s disease to the flood
of genetic abnormalities that have now been found to cause various movement disorders.