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Editorial: New UNM clinic in motion

Movement disorders, by their very nature, are debilitating and limiting. What people don’t need in this situation is yet more limitation.

On finding out fairly recently he had Parkinson’s disease, former University of New Mexico Regent Jamie Koch was forced to confront exactly this situation. Facing a six- to nine-month wait to see a movement disorder specialist – not surprising given that there are just three in the state for around 10,000 possible patients – he found himself on the front lines of a battle that needed a champion.

According to the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) Movement Disorders Strategic Plan, movement disorders are a minor part of most general neurologists’ practice. There are some neurologists who focus specifically on movement disorders, but very few.

Despite knowing full well he likely wouldn’t benefit from any development that came out of his advocacy, Koch started a push for a movement disorders clinic at UNM.

The 2019 Legislature listened and gave the proposal partial funding – $3.5 million – a figure matched by UNM. The clinic is to be modeled on similar facilities in other states. In addition to helping patients and, hopefully, cutting wait times significantly, UNM hopes the clinic will attract more doctors who specialize in this area. UNM’s Amanda Deligtisch, an associate professor in the Department of Neurology, said another hope is that this space will help provide clinical trials that could help patients.

While there’s no location as yet for the new clinic, there is now money and momentum for timely treatment here.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.