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Charles, David, Department of Neurology

David Charles, M.D.
Department of Neurology
A-1106 MCN
615-322-2538 (office)
615-322-0262 (fax)

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 Disease

Medscape: Motor Skill Improvement with DBS Seen in Early Parkinson’s

Vanderbilt 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 Alliance

American 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 david.charles@vanderbilt.edu


Select Publications

Heusinkveld L, Hacker M, Turchan M, Bollig M, Tamargo C, et. al. Patient Perspectives on Deep Brain Stimulation Clinical Research in Early Stage Parkinson’s Disease. J Parkinsons Dis. 2016 Nov 30. [Epub ahead of print]


Turchan M, Hudson TS, Gill CE, Currie AD, Molinari AL, et al. (2016) The Prevalence of Spasticity in Veterans Living in a Long-Term Care Facility. Int J Neurol Neurother 3:056


Sayce L, Hudson T, Heusinkveld L, Currie AD, Hacker M, Charles, D. (2016) Spasticity Diagnosis and Treatment in the United States – A Priority for our Aging Population. International Journal of Neurorehabilitation 3: 216.


Hacker ML, Currie AD, Molinari AL, Turchan M, Millan SM, et. al. Subthalamic Nucleus Deep Brain Stimulation May Reduce Medication Costs in Early Stage Parkinson’s Disease. Journal of Parkinson’s Disease 2016;6(1):125-31.

Hacker ML, Tonascia J, Turchan M, Currie A, Heusinkveld L, et. al. Deep brain stimulation may reduce the relative risk of clinically important worsening in early stage Parkinson’s disease. Parkinsonism Relat Disord. 2015 Oct;21(10):1177-83.

Charles D, Konrad PE, Neimat JS, Molinari AL, Tramontana MG, et. al. Subthalamic nucleus deep brain stimulation in early stage Parkinson’s disease. Parkinsonism Relat Disord 2014 Jul; 20(1):731-7.

Gill CE, Manus ND, Pelster MW, Cook JA, Title W, et. al. Continuation of long-term care for cervical dystonia at an academic movement disorders clinic. Toxins 2013 Apr 23;5(4):776-83.

Charles PD, Dolhun RM, Gill CE, Davis TL, Bliton MJ, Tramontana MG, Salomon RM, Wang L, Hedera P, Phibbs FT, Neimat JS, Konrad PD. Deep Brain Stimulation in early Parkinsons disease: Enrollment experience from a pilot trial. Parkinsonism and Related Disorders 2012; 18: 268-273.


Gill CE, Allen LA, Davis TL, Tramontana MG, Bliton MJ, Finder SG, Charles PD. Deep brain stimulation for early stage Parkinsons disease: a case report with two years of follow-up. Neuromodulation 2011; 14(6):515-522.


Remple MS, Harrison CH, Kao C, Charles PD, Neimat JS, Konrad PE. Subthalamic Nucleus Neuronal Firing Rate Increases in the Subthalamic Nucleus with Parkinsons Disease Progression. Movement Disorders 2011;26(9):1657-1662.


Hedera P, Phibbs FT, Fang JY, Cooper MK, Charles PD, Davis TL. Clustering of Dystonia in Some Pedigrees with Autosomal dominant Essential Tremor Suggest the Existence of a Distinct Genetic Subtype of Essential Tremor. BMC Neurology 2010;10:66.


Charles PD, Gill CE, Taylor HM, Putman MS, Ayers GD, Blair CR, Roberts AG, Konrad PE. Spasticity Treatment Facilitates Direct Care Delivery for Adults with Profound Intellectual Disability. Movement Disorders 2010;25(4):466-473.


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