Meet Dr. Shilpa Chitnis
Neurologist Specializing in Movement Disorders
As a neurologist who specializes in the treatment of movement disorders – including Parkinson’s disease, essential and other types of tremors, and dystonia – Shilpa Chitnis, M.D., Ph.D., is a clinician, researcher, and an educator. She is the clinical director of the Neurology Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) program, which provides care that has revolutionized the treatment of movement disorders.
“Deep brain stimulation involves surgically implanting electrodes in the brain to regulate abnormal electrical signals that cause the symptoms of movement disorders,” Dr. Chitnis explains. “Patients who have medication-related side effects and inconsistent responses to medications benefit from DBS.
“But not every patient is a candidate for deep brain stimulation. Our multidisciplinary DBS team is highly experienced in determining who will benefit from this alternative with low risk. This is one of the benefits of being treated at UT Southwestern,” she says.
Because of the complexity of movement disorders, Dr. Chitnis combines a focus on managing the immediate health care needs of each patient along with evaluating long-term solutions. She helps patients understand signs and symptoms of the disease process, along with the full spectrum of medications and treatments available to them.
“I make sure I counsel my patients at every appointment. When they understand their condition, it helps them deal with it better and be more engaged with their own care,” she says.
“I also encourage the involvement of family members or caregivers. We educate the caregivers so that as the disease progresses, they know what to do.”
Dr. Chitnis played a key role in establishing UT Southwestern’s Neuromodulation Network. It includes a multidisciplinary team of specialists, all of whom focus on movement disorders – neurologists, electrophysiologists, neurosurgeons, nurses, and others. They meet regularly to determine if certain patients are candidates for deep brain stimulation.
In addition, Dr. Chitnis is a leader in the development of new therapies for movement disorders. She is actively engaged in clinical trials and has 8-10 studies under way at any given time.
“We are part of a large, NIH-funded study for Parkinson’s disease patients to identify potential biomarkers for disease identification and/or progression,” she says. “The goal is to eventually identify a neuroprotective therapy to slow down the course of Parkinson’s disease.”
Dr. Chitnis adds that the dedication to delivering outstanding clinical care, along with an intense focus on research, sets UT Southwestern apart in improving the understanding and treatment of various movement disorders, especially Parkinson’s disease and tremor disorders.