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If you or a loved one has a neuromuscular disorder, partnering with skilled neuromuscular specialists who understand your condition is essential. With the Charlotte region’s most experienced team, Atrium Health Neurosciences Institute is here to help you ease your symptoms and maximize your quality of life.

Our program features dedicated clinics that provide highly specialized care for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), muscular dystrophy and other neuromuscular disorders. And from the earliest stages to the most advanced, we go beyond treating your disease to care for your total well-being.

New patient appointments are by referral only. Ask your doctor if our program is right for you.

Learn more about neuromuscular disorder care at Atrium Health Neurosciences Institute.

Why choose Atrium Health Neurosciences Institute?

  1. Nationally recognized care: We’re home to the only designated Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) Care Center and ALS Association Certified Treatment Center of Excellence in the Charlotte region. We’re also one of only two Charcot-Marie-Tooth Association Centers of Excellence and Hereditary Neuropathy Foundation Centers of Excellence in the Carolinas.
  2. Neuromuscular expertise: Led by fellowship-trained neuromuscular disease doctors, our multidisciplinary team of specialists offers more expertise and experience than any other program in the area. Our ALS program is one of the largest nationwide, caring for hundreds of patients.
  3. Collaborative approach: Doctors, nurses, rehabilitation specialists and other experts work together to make sure you receive the best possible treatment for your unique needs. At our dedicated clinics, you can often see multiple members of your care team during a single visit.
  4. Innovative treatments: Our providers take advantage of the latest and most effective treatments for neuromuscular disorders. And through our leading neuromuscular research program, we offer clinical trials that give you access to the most promising therapies before they’re widely available.
  5. Continuing care: Along with Atrium Health Levine Children’s, our experts are equipped to provide seamlessly coordinated care for all ages. From your initial evaluation through lifelong management of your condition, we’re with you every step of the way.

Patient care – what we treat

Our leading experts use the latest technologies to diagnose and manage the full range of neuromuscular disorders.

Some conditions we treat include:

  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, sometimes called Lou Gehrig’s disease)
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Spinal muscular atrophy
  • Inflammatory muscle diseases including polymyositis, dermatomyositis and body myositis
  • Genetic neuropathies including Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease
  • Hereditary ataxia including Friedrich’s ataxia
  • Peripheral neuropathy and polyneuropathy
  • Inflammatory neuropathies
  • Neuromuscular junction disorders including myasthenia gravis

Neuromuscular disorder diagnosis and testing

When you’re experiencing symptoms of a neuromuscular disorder, you want answers. Our providers have specialized training and years of experience diagnosing these conditions, so you get an accurate diagnosis and the right treatment sooner.

Your doctor will start by taking a complete medical history and performing a physical and neurological exam. They may also recommend one or more tests, such as:

  • Imaging: To look at your brain and spinal cord, your doctor may use specialized imaging tests such as neuromuscular ultrasound, MRI or CT scans.
  • Spinal tap: During a spinal tap (or lumbar puncture), your provider places a special needle into your lower back to take a small sample of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) for testing. CSF is the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord.
  • Electromyography (EMG): EMG is a test that measures the electrical activity of your nerves and muscles. Our EMG lab is accredited by the American Association of Neuromuscular and Electrodiagnostic Medicine for high-quality, safe care.
  • Nerve conduction study (NCS): During this test, also known as a nerve conduction velocity test, small electrodes on your skin stimulate the nerves with a low level of electricity. NCS is often done along with EMG.
  • Muscle, nerve and skin biopsy: Depending on your individual needs, a small sample of muscle, nerve or skin tissue may be taken to examine the health of your cells.
  • Genetic testing and counseling: Some neuromuscular diseases run in families. With genetic testing and counseling, we can check for an inherited risk for certain conditions and help you and your family navigate the results.
  • Quantitative muscle testing: We use a computer-based system to test the strength of specific muscles or muscle groups and evaluate the possible response to treatment.

Neuromuscular disorder treatment

Neuromuscular disorders affect each person differently, so it’s important that your treatment is tailored to you. Our specialists personalize your treatment plan to help you manage symptoms and maintain independence, providing comprehensive support at every step.

Depending on your condition, your treatment may include:

  1. Medication: We offer a wide variety of drugs that can reduce specific symptoms or keep them from getting worse. Your doctor will help determine which medications would most benefit you.
  2. Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG): Immunity-boosting antibodies are delivered through a vein in your arm. These antibodies help block inflammation, which can reduce symptoms.
  3. Plasma exchange: During this procedure, also called plasmapheresis, a special machine removes harmful antibodies from the blood and replaces them with healthy antibodies.
  4. Physical and occupational therapy: Our trained therapists help you maintain your functional abilities and find new ways to perform routine activities.
  5. Speech therapy: Our speech pathologists can help you overcome challenges related to communication and swallowing. If needed, they can guide you in using an augmentative and alternative communication device, including eye-gaze systems.
  6. Nutritional support: Our dietitians are here to ensure you get the right nutrients for your body. This can include guiding you through dietary changes or using a feeding tube (enteral therapy) to provide nourishment.
  7. Respiratory therapy: We offer treatments to help you breathe and avoid lung infections, including assistive ventilation equipment.
  8. Assistive devices: Braces, walkers, wheelchairs and other adaptive equipment can support you in everyday movement and prevent injuries. Our providers can recommend devices for you and your home and teach you how to use them.
  9. Support services: A dedicated social worker is available to patients and caregivers to provide emotional support, care navigation, connection to community resources and more.

Patient resources

Neuromuscular disorder research

The Carolinas Neuromuscular/ALS-MDA Center, part of Atrium Health Neurosciences Institute, is the Southeast’s major comprehensive facility for the study and treatment of degenerative neuromuscular diseases.

The center has two translational research laboratories: the Carolinas Neuromuscular/ALS Research Laboratory and the McColl-Lockwood Laboratory for Muscular Dystrophy Research. Here, we’re leading groundbreaking research that is transforming care for patients around the world.

Neuromuscular Web Images 2023 neuron

Find a clinical trial

Through our in-house neurosciences research, we give patients access to potentially breakthrough therapies. .

Use our search tool to find current clinical trials. To learn more about our available studies, talk to your doctor.

Search clinical trials

For referring providers

When you refer a patient to us, we keep you involved and up to date throughout their care. To make a referral, call our dedicated physician referral line at 704-468-0101 or send a fax to 704-468-0022.

Frequently asked questions

Neuromuscular disorders encompass a wide range of conditions that cause problems with the nerves and muscles in your body, affecting how they function. Symptoms vary between disorders and may depend on how far the disease has progressed.

Some possible symptoms include:

  • Problems with balance or movement
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • Numbness, tingling or pain
  • Muscle loss and weakness
  • Vision problems, including droopy eyelids

The symptoms of neuromuscular disorders can appear similar to other conditions. That’s why it’s important to see an expert who can provide an accurate diagnosis.

If you’re concerned about your symptoms but have not been diagnosed with a neuromuscular disorder, start by seeing a primary care provider or general neurologist. They can help you decide if seeing a neuromuscular neurologist is right for you and provide a referral, if needed.

Doctors who specialize in conditions that affect the brain, spinal cord and nerves are called neurologists. Neuromuscular neurologists are subspecialists who have completed additional training in the diagnosis and treatment of neuromuscular disorders like ALS and muscular dystrophy.

When you see a neuromuscular neurologist, it’s their job to determine whether your symptoms are caused by a neuromuscular disorder, identify the specific diagnosis and deliver the most effective treatment plan.

Our neurologists work closely with a team of experts from different areas of medicine to deliver comprehensive care. The providers on your team depend on your specific needs, but may include:

  • Specialized nurses
  • Physical therapists
  • Occupational therapists
  • Respiratory therapists
  • Speech pathologists
  • Genetic counselors
  • Dietitians
  • Neuropsychologists
  • Pulmonologists
  • Gastroenterologists
  • Social workers
  • Adaptive equipment specialists

To diagnose your condition, your neuromuscular neurologist will ask questions about your symptoms and past health and complete a physical and neurological exam. They may also use a series of imaging, tests and lab work to make an accurate diagnosis.

One test that’s commonly used to diagnose neuromuscular disorders is electromyography (EMG). Our neuromuscular neurologists have years of training and experience with this diagnostic test, and our EMG lab holds the highest level of accreditation by the American Association of Neuromuscular & Electrodiagnostic Medicine.

Many neuromuscular disorders are inherited (genetic). For example, both ALS and muscular dystrophy can be hereditary. In other cases, problems with the immune system can cause neuromuscular conditions.

If your provider suspects you have a hereditary neuromuscular disorder, they may recommend genetic testing to confirm your diagnosis and guide your treatment plan.

Currently, there is no cure for most neuromuscular disorders. The goal of treatment is often to manage symptoms and, in some cases, reverse muscle damage or slow the progression of disease. Researchers – including those at Atrium Health – are working hard to develop curative treatments for these conditions.

Yes. Clinical trials give you more opportunities to find the right treatment for you, and Atrium Health’s neuromuscular research program is among the most comprehensive in the Southeast.

Search our current clinical trials. If you’re interested in participating in one of our studies, talk to your neuromuscular neurologist.

Yes. We offer many resources and services to make navigating life with a neuromuscular disorder easier for patients and families. In addition to supportive care like rehabilitation and therapy, a dedicated social worker will connect you to programs and services designed to help you achieve and maintain the best possible quality of life.

Yes. Muscular dystrophy is a group of inherited diseases that causes muscles to wear down and become weaker (muscular degeneration). As a certified MDA Care Center, we offer comprehensive care for all types of muscular dystrophy.

Some of these include:

  • Becker muscular dystrophy
  • Congenital muscular dystrophy
  • Congenital myopathy
  • Duchenne muscular dystrophy
  • Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy
  • Limb-girdle muscular dystrophy
  • Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA)

Returning patients: Call 704-468-0101 or schedule through MyAtriumHealth.

New patients: Appointments for new patients are by referral only. If you’re interested in seeing one of our specialists, talk to your doctor. Referring physicians can fax a referral to 704-468-0022. To learn more about our program, call 704-468-0101.

To make the most of your visit, be sure that your neuromuscular doctor will have access to relevant medical records. This may include office notices, laboratory testing, imaging (ultrasound and MRI or CT scans), electrodiagnostic testing (EMG and NCS) and genetic testing.

If you have specific questions about how to prepare, please contact your doctor’s office directly.

Our providers

Your multidisciplinary care team will be guided by a neurologist. Find a neuromuscular doctor near you.