UT Health San Antonio recognized by Parkinson’s Foundation, hosts inaugural symposium

Okeanis Vaou, MD, middle, accepts a plaque from the Parkinson’s Foundation designating UT Health San Antonio as a comprehensive care center. UT Health San Antonio is the only site in Texas with the designation.


The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio was recognized as a Parkinson’s Foundation Comprehensive Care Center at the inaugural UT Health San Antonio Parkinson’s Symposium, held Feb. 24.

A team of specialists from UT Health San Antonio’s Movement Disorders Program received the recognition of this designation, the first of its kind in Texas.

“We are honored to have this designation from the Parkinson’s Foundation,” said Okeanis Vaou, MD, associate professor and director of the movement disorders program in the Department of Neurology, Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine. “We are committed to serving the community with the latest in treatments and research. The designation is a salute to our dedication and expertise, and it empowers us to enhance our services, expand research initiatives and strengthen community outreach efforts.”

Eleni Okeanis Vaou, MD

In July 2023, the Parkinson’s Foundation announced the expansion of its Global Care Network, adding four centers of Excellence and four Comprehensive Care Centers throughout the country. The announcement included UT Health San Antonio’s designation in the latter category for its role in providing excellent care to people with Parkinson’s disease within a broad geographic region. Each center is required to meet rigorous care, professional training, community education and outreach criteria.

UT Health San Antonio’s Movement Disorders Program is led by a team of board-certified, fellowship-trained neuroscience experts who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders. Together, the team of experts consult and collaborate to create an effective treatment plan specifically tailored to help patients manage their symptoms.

The central priority of the Parkinson’s Foundation is to ensure that people with Parkinson’s disease can obtain the care they need to improve their health and quality of life.

According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, about 90,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson’s each year. It is the second most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer’s.

During the one-day symposium, more than 200 attendees heard about practical tips for living with the disease, as well as the latest research and medications available to patients. Topics included non-motor symptoms in Parkinson’s patients and the benefits of physical therapy.

Parkinson’s is often gradual and progresses over time. Some symptoms may include shaking or tremors, slow movement, stiffness and balance issues. According to the National Institutes of Health, the risk of developing the disease is more prevalent in men than in women. It is typically diagnosed after age 60, but people under 50 can also have Parkinson’s.

James Brennan, a 55-year-old small business owner, was diagnosed with the disease three days before Christmas in 2023. He said he heard about the event through Vaou, who treats him.

“At first, I didn’t want to come, but I’m glad I came,” he said. “It’s a good way to spend a Saturday learning about what’s going on in your life.”

Brennan said he hoped to learn more about the latest medications and innovations.

“I like that [UT Health San Antonio and the Parkinson’s Foundation] are putting a lot of effort into helping the Parkinson’s community find some answers and get some clarity on what’s happening in their life,” he said. “It’s been an adjustment since I found out what was going on with my health. But I try to live every day with some hope and keep going.”

To learn more about UT Health San Antonio’s Movement Disorder Program, visit uthealthcare.org/parkinsons or call the center at 210-450-9700.


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