Neurodegenerative Diseases | Neurology


Neurodegenerative Diseases

Neurodegenerative diseases are life-altering. Our neurologists offer compassionate care for people affected by all forms of neurodegenerative disease, such as Alzheimer’s disease, ALS and Parkinson’s disease.

Medically reviewed by Charles DeCarli, M.D. on Dec. 22, 2023.

Male health care provider talking to older man

Expert Care for Neurodegenerative Diseases

Specialists at the UC Davis Health Department of Neurology offer the latest treatments for all types of neurodegenerative diseases. We’re nationally recognized for our expertise and provide compassionate care for patients and their loved ones.

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Our Difference

Centers of Excellence

Many of our clinics are nationally recognized centers of excellence for specific neurodegenerative diseases. These recognitions reflect our expertise in providing advanced, compassionate patient care.

Comprehensive Care

At UC Davis Health, you benefit from advanced diagnostic tests, the latest treatments and access to clinical trials. We provide complete care for all types of neurodegenerative diseases.

Innovative Research

Our providers are actively involved in neurology research, including studies at the UC Davis Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center. We’re dedicated to finding better ways to detect, prevent and treat neurodegenerative diseases.


What Are Neurodegenerative Diseases?

Neurodegenerative diseases can damage nerve cells (neurons) in your brain, spinal cord and the nerves throughout your body. The different types of neurodegenerative diseases have distinct causes and symptoms. These diseases are progressive (get worse over time), but treatments can help improve your quality of life.

Common Neurodegenerative Diseases

Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia

Alzheimer’s disease and dementias, such as corticobasal degeneration, vascular dementia and Lewy body dementia, occur when nerve cells in your brain die. You experience problems with memory, speech and thought processes.

Learn more about our Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care Program
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and Motor Neuron Diseases

ALS (also called Lou Gehrig’s disease) and progressive lateral sclerosis (PLS) occur when nerve cells that control muscle movements (motor neurons) die. These conditions affect your ability to talk, swallow, move and breathe.

Check out the UC Davis Multidisciplinary ALS Clinic
Huntington’s Disease

People with Huntington’s disease inherit a gene change (mutation) that causes the condition. Nerve cells in your brain die, affecting how you think, move and feel (your moods).

Learn more about our Huntington’s Disease Clinic
Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease results from damage to nerve cells in your brain that control coordination and muscle movements. The disease causes tremors, balance problems and slowed movements.

Explore our Center for Movement Disorders and Neurorestoration

Causes of Neurodegenerative Diseases

In rare instances, specific gene mutations play a role in causing neurodegenerative diseases such as:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Frontotemporal dementia
  • Frontotemporal dementia with parkinsonism
  • Motor neuron diseases
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Vascular dementia

Older age is the primary risk factor for most neurodegenerative diseases, particularly Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. While you can’t control your age, you can address other risk factors that increase your chances of developing a neurodegenerative disease. 

Modifiable risk factors include:

Environmental Factors

Exposure to certain chemicals, toxins, pesticides and metals may increase your risk. Air pollution may also have an impact.

Health Conditions

You may be more likely to develop dementia if you have obesity, poor sleep, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes.

Lifestyle Choices

Tobacco and overuse of alcohol, as well as an unhealthy diet and sedentary lifestyle, may also put you at risk.

“Aging as a risk factor for neurological diseases,” Nature Reviews Neurology, 

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Ranked Sacramento’s #1 hospital

Ranked Sacramento’s #1 hospital by U.S. News, and high-performing in COPD, colon cancer surgery, diabetes, heart attack, heart failure, hip fracture, hip replacement, kidney failure, leukemia, lymphoma & myeloma, lung cancer surgery, ovarian cancer surgery, pneumonia, prostate cancer surgery, stroke, TAVR, uterine cancer surgery, gastroenterology & GI surgery, and orthopedics.

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UC Davis Medical Center has received Magnet® recognition, the nation’s highest honor for nursing excellence.

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“Most Wired” for ambulatory care

UC Davis Health has been recognized as a level 10 out of 10 in the Digital Health “Most Wired” program from the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME). The honor recognizes excellence in using technology to improve the delivery of care.

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One of ~56 U.S. cancer centers designated “comprehensive” by the National Cancer Institute.

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For the 11th consecutive year, UC Davis Medical Center has been recognized as a “Leader in LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality.”

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