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Charles, David, Department of Neurology

David Charles, M.D.
Department of Neurology
A-1106 MCN
615-322-2538 (office)

Research Interests

Our clinical research group’s focus is on improving the treatment of movement disorders, with specific interests in early stage Parkinson’s disease, Spasticity, and Cervical Dystonia. We undertake patient-oriented research in a variety of care settings including outpatient clinics, residential care homes, and retirement facilities.

Deep Brain Stimulation in Early Stage Parkinson’s Disease

More than one million Americans are living with Parkinson’s disease, a progressive neurodegenerative movement disorder characterized by loss of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra. Deep brain stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus (STN-DBS) is an approved adjunctive therapy for mid- and advanced stage Parkinson’s disease that improves motor symptoms, quality of life, and activities of daily living while also reducing medication burden and associated complications. Vanderbilt University Medical Center completed the only prospective, randomized clinical trial testing DBS in very early stage Parkinson’s disease. Our ongoing line of research aims to investigate DBS in early stage Parkinson’s disease to better understand if this treatment may slow the progression of the disease.

Neurology Today® Video: DBS Improves Motor Function in Patients with Early-Stage Parkinson’s DiseaseMedscape: Motor Skill Improvement with DBS Seen in Early Parkinson’sVanderbilt Reporter: Early intervention at heart of new Parkinson’s trial
Vanderbilt Reporter: Events honor early patients of novel Parkinson’s study
Vanderbilt Reporter: Brain stimulation for early Parkinson’s shows promise
Vanderbilt Reporter: DBS for Parkinson’s trial moves to next level
Vanderbilt Reporter: Trial to test whether DBS slows Parkinson’s progression

Spasticity in Adults

Spasticity is a form of muscle rigidity, which is often experienced by people with nervous system injuries. Spasticity can lead to many negative symptoms, such as increased incidence of urinary tract infection, pain and discomfort, and reduced quality of life. Additionally spasticity may impair activities of daily living, making it difficult to perform care activities for patients who require support. Our current line of research aims to validate the use of newly developed tools to assist with the identification and diagnosis of spasticity and to improve diagnostic criteria through identification of new markers of disease.

Spasticity AllianceAmerican Association of Neurological Surgeons: Spasticity
Multiple Sclerosis Trust: Spasticity and Spasms Factsheet

Cervical Dystonia in Adults

Cervical dystonia is painful over-activity of the neck and shoulder muscles resulting in an abnormal head position. Our current line of research addresses treatment continuation in patients who receive treatment at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center outpatient clinic.

Dystonia Medical Research Foundation: More Info – Cervical Dystonia
The Dystonia Society: Neck Dystonia

Clinical Research Opportunities

We are accepting applications for undergraduate research roles within our team. Please send your résumé with an accompanying statement of interest to