stem-cells

In this episode of the Sarasota Neurology Podcast, Dr. Kassicieh discusses Platelet Rich Plasma  and Regenerative Medicine.

Regenerative medicine is a new, exciting branch of medicine which deals with healing injured or damaged tissue with the body’s own natural healing mechanism. To do this, Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) is extracted from the patient’s own blood. Using blood from the patient eliminates the risk of transmission of blood born disease, viruses and other infectious agents. PRP is then injected into the area of the body that needs intensive healing and tissue regeneration.

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PRP therapy works especially well for injured tendons and ligaments, and is uniquely suited for those difficult knee and shoulder injuries. Even patients who have had knee or shoulder surgery but still have pain can have dramatic benefit and pain relief from PRP therapy.

PRP is revolutionary therapy in that it avoids surgery. It is done as an outpatient procedure, so there is no recovery time or rehabilitation to deal with. If you have joint pain, you may be an excellent candidate for PRP therapy. Call now to schedule an evaluation to see if you would benefit from PRP therapy.

To schedule an appointment, please call (941) 955-5858 or you may request an appointment here.


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In this episode of the Sarasota Neurology Podcast, Dr. Kassicieh, a recognized Parkinson’s disease expert, provides an overview of the disease and current techniques for managing it.

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Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disease seen in the United States. Only Alzheimer’s disease is more common. They both share the common fact that they are progressive neurological diseases that result in patients losing functional ability. Alzheimer’s disease affects memory, the ability to remember how to do things and general loss of mental function. Alzheimer’s patients are mostly not aware of the fact that they are neurologically deteriorating. They will make excuses for their memory short comings. Like Parkinson’s disease it is important to recognize Alzheimer’s early so that treatment can be started and outcomes will be improved.

Parkinson’s disease is primarily a progressive loss of the ability to move normally. There is a gradual slowing of movements as well as doing routine tasks such as shaving, dressing and getting ready to go out. Walking is affected and patients tend to shuffle with a forward stoop. Although tremor is common in Parkinson’s patients, not all have this. The converse is true: not everyone with tremor has Parkinson’s disease. There are many treatment available for Parkinson patients to improve their quality of life.

Not everything that shakes is Parkinson’s. If you are concerned that you or someone you love may be suffering from this or another movement disorder, please call (941) 955-5858 or click here to schedule your appointment today. If you’re outside the Sarasota area and unable to travel here, please locate a movement disorder specialist in your area.


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lower_back_painFailed back syndrome, or lumbar post-laminectomy syndrome, is the term given to patients who have had back surgery for back pain, but continue to have pain after surgery. Even worse, their back pain can be worse after the surgery. The main problem is the fact that low back pain is not an indication for back surgery – any more than neck pain is an indication for neck surgery (failed neck surgery: cervical post-laminectomy syndrome). Surgery done for the sole purpose of relieving neck or back pain is doomed to failure. Many spine surgeons make the false assumption that if a patient has back pain and there is a spine MRI abnormality – this is the cause of the pain and surgery to “fix” the MRI abnormality, and consequently the back pain, is necessary. In actuality, just the opposite is true. Most causes of neck or back pain cannot be identified and more importantly, do not require spine surgery.

Failed back syndrome (FBS) has many different causes. Some of these are a direct result of surgery: operating at the wrong level, failure to remove the entire herniated disc fragment, trauma to the exiting nerve root, continued pressure on the nerve root, scar tissue and inflammatory changes at the site of surgery. Back surgery typically involves removing some of the boney part of the spine. This can result in spinal instability. This causes additional spine pain. Predisposing factors to FBS include smoking, diabetes and obesity.

Persistent low back pain, following back surgery, may be due to any number of causes. The surgery itself causes scar tissue to form, which can cause more spine joint pain. Spinal hardware, such as screws put in to stabilize the spine, can cause pain. These screws are put into the vertebral bodies to secure metal plates or other hardware to stabilize the spine. This is frequently done plus inserting bone fragments, for a spine fusion procedure, to further add more stability. The screws can cause pain in and of themselves. They can be put in incorrectly or touch a nerve root. The spinal fusion can fail to take and therefore the spine is not as stable as it should be. All of these things combined can result in additional pain or worsening of existing pain. Taking the screws out does not always result in clearing the pain – plus this requires another back surgery, leading to a viscous cycle.

Back surgery fails for a number of reasons. The three main reasons for failed back surgery are:

1. Surgery was not indicated in the first place for pain treatment,
2. The surgical procedure performed never would have achieved the desired outcome,
3. Correct surgery performed but did not get the intended results.

The main message here is that there are many reasons not to have back surgery. Unfortunately, over 500,000 Americans undergo spine surgery annually. Over 50% will have little or no relief for of the symptoms. It is not unusual to find patients such as this who have had two or more spinal surgeries – both neck and back operations. The majority do poorly. Failure rate with second spine surgery is about 70%. Three or more spine surgeries experience greater than 90% failure rate.

FBS symptoms include persistent, dull back pain, which varies in intensity. Patients can have sharp back pains that may radiate down one or both legs – sciatica. In almost all cases of failed back syndrome, more surgery is the worst thing that can be done, as this only compounds an already bad situation. Most of these patients are disabled and are on narcotics for pain relief. Narcotics are addictive and surgery is not reversible.

Fortunately there is non-surgical, non-narcotic treatment for patients with post-surgical neck or back pain. Platelet rich plasma (PRP) therapy is a simple, in-office procedure that can naturally provide dramatic, lasting relief. PRP (platelet) therapy does not require anesthesia, rehabilitation or any down time. Platelet rich plasma (PRP) is derived directly from your own blood. PRP is blood plasma with a high concentration of platelets. Contained within platelets are the active healing proteins and growth factors that promote new tissue regeneration. Growth factors are necessary to initiate tissue healing and regeneration. With concentrated amounts of these proteins in an injured area, healing and tissue repair is started and accelerated. Stem cells, respond to the growth factors, into the area, further aiding in healing. Healing can occur in various tissues including tendons, ligaments, muscle and bone – as stem cells will change into whatever damaged tissue is needed. Along with tissue repair, the regeneration process also stimulates new blood vessel growth to promote healing process.

Here in Sarasota, platelet rich plasma therapy is available. At Sarasota Neurology, Dr. Kassicieh, a Sarasota PRP doctor, has been doing platelet rich plasma therapy for tissue regeneration (regenerative medicine) since 2009. He has successfully treated several hundred patients with back and joint pain – all without surgery. Our success rate in treating failed back syndrome, knee pain, shoulder injuries and even plantar fasciitis is over 80%. Many patients become pain free. If you have persistent cervical (neck) or back (lumbar) spine pain, call now for a consultation for platelet rich plasma (PRP) therapy with a board certified neurologist and PRP doctor.


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How I Avoided Knee Surgery

Parkinson disease was first described by James Parkinson in 1817 Over the years, various medication therapies have been FDA approved for Parkinson disease. In the 1960s, Sinemet (carbidooa-levodopa) was approved. Sinemet was and still is the gold standard therapy for Parkinson disease. While it is the gold standard, it should not be the first drug used to treat Parkinson disease. It should be the third or fourth drug used. Early use of Sinemet can result in unwanted, irreversible side effects.

Dopamine agonist were FDA approved in the 1990s for first line Parkinson disease therapy. These medications mimic the effect of dopamine in the brain of Parkinson disease patients. Dopamine is the brain chemical that is deficient in these patients. Mirapex (pramipexole) and Requip (ropinirole) are two commonly used dopamine agonists in the treatment of Parkinson patients.

The newest dopamine agonist which was FDA approved for Parkinson treatment is Neupro. Neupro is unique in that it is a dopamine agonist patch medication. This transdermal patch system is applied once daily to clean, dry skin. The benefit is that Parkinson patients get a 24 hour continuous medication dosing. Patch application sites need to be rotated daily, to prevent skin irritation. Neupro comes in several dosage strengths. Like other Parkinson medications, the dose needs to be adjusted for ideal patient functioning, with minimal side effects.

Dopamine agonists can have potential side effects. This class of medication can cause symptoms of hallucinations, confusion, lowered blood pressure, drowsiness, sudden sleep attacks – particularly while driving. Other side effects include stomach upset, nausea and compulsive behaviors – including gambling, eating and hypersexuality.

Parkinson disease does not need to be a disabling condition. With careful neurological management and detail to your specific needs, a Parkinson patient can have an excellent, functional quality of life for many years.


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Sarasota Neurology is proud to announce the addition of Nora Davis, ARNP to the practice. In addition to her medical experience of 20 years, she has had extensive training and interest in dermatology to enhance patients’ facial appearance. Nora brings to Sarasota Neurology her expertise in skin health and rejuvenation. Additionally, with her medical experience and interest in neurology, she is seeing neurology patients as well. Dr. Kassicieh has had over 20 years of experience in performing Botox therapy for many different medical conditions. As a bonus, doing Botox for cosmetic purposes came naturally. Since 2009, he has been doing platelet rich plasma therapy (PRP), the first Sarasota platelet rich plasma doctor doing non-surgical neuro-orthopedics. Platelet rich plasma therapy is done in the office, using your body’s own natural ability to heal itself. PRP therapy can also be used for cosmetic purposes in hair growth and natural, non-surgical face lifts.
Nora is a Board Certified, Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner, who has been practicing medicine for over 25 years, trained in dermatology aesthetic procedures and most recently joined an Osteopathic specialist, Sarasota neurologist Dr. Daniel Kassicieh. She has her Master of Science Degree from the University of South Florida. Nora is a member of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, Southern Gulf Coast Nurse Practitioner Council, Board member of the American Cancer Society of Charlotte County and Certified American Heart Association CPR instructor.
Five years ago Nora entered the dermatology field of Medical Aesthetics. In primary care Nora found a passion in dermatology. Beauty in treating and preventing skin conditions such as acne, rosacea, and skin cancer became her main focus. She has had extensive education and training in aesthetics for facial skin care, laser therapy, Botox, Juvederm and other treatments to reduce or eliminate facial wrinkles and other signs of aging. The goal is to avoid She is an educator and clinician with the Obagi® skin care systems. Additionally she does chemical peels, and performs facial injectable procedures. She focuses on tissue regeneration for wrinkles, laxity, brown spots, dryness and dullness. This, combined with platelet rich plasma therapy to replace facial collagen is the ultimate in facial skin care. Nora promotes wellness and beauty for health management in all ages. She is dedicated and committed to providing the best possible care to her patients to feel and look their best. It is all about quality of life – if you look better, younger – you feel better. Call Sarasota Neurology now for your appointment for a new youthful look and start to reverse the effects of aging.


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Huntington’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease that is a genetic, progressive neurological disorder that slowly takes away a persons ability to walk, talk, and reason. It is characterized by the initial subtle symptoms of change in personality and motor skills ability. As the condition progresses, patients develop involuntary movements known as chorea (hence Huntington’s Chorea.)  The word chorea comes from the Greek word choreia, which means “to dance”, which describes the uncoordinated, jerky body movements associated with the condition. Other motor symptoms eventually appear and may include difficulty speaking, walking or writing.  It was reported in detail in 1872 by the American physician, George Huntington (1850-1916).

Symptoms of Huntington’s disease usually appear between the ages of  35-44 years old. Affected individuals can show a general lack of coordination and an unsteady gait.  Other symptoms include  depression, mood swings, forgetfulness, clumsiness, and involuntary twitching. As the disease progresses, concentration and short-term memory decrease and involuntary movements of the head, trunk and limbs increase. Huntington’s dementia eventually occurs. Patients will have memory loss associated with difficulty in abstract thinking, planning and avoiding inappropriate behavior.

In 1993, scientists discovered the gene that causes Huntington’s disease. HD is a genetic mutation stemming from the formation a chain of abnormal DNA sequences. There are four building blocks of DNA. Repeating DNA chains of cytosine-adenine-guanine (CAG) code for the protein glutamine, an amino acid. As a result, these long glutamine chain proteins clump together and are toxic to brain cells (neurons.) The more CAG repeat sequences there are, the more severe the symptoms of HD.  Scientists have also discovered the more severely the gene is mutated, the earlier the onset of the disease.

There is no known cure for Huntington’s disease at this time .  There are, however, treatments which can be employed to reduce the severity of some symptoms.  Tetrabenazine was developed specifically to reduce the severity of chorea in HD. Other drugs that help to reduce chorea include Haldol, Risperdal and other neuroleptic medications. Valium like drugs known as benzodiazepines may also be helpful. Rigidity can be treated with antiparkinsonian drugs, and myoclonic hyperkinesia can be treated with valproic acid. Depression is common in HD and can be managed with medications in the serotonin reuptake inhibitor family, such as Prozac or citolopram.

Huntington’s Disease profoundly affects not only the patient, but the entire family — physically, emotionally, socially and economically.  Since there is no known cure and the prognosis is poor, a plan of action should be developed jointly with a qualified neurologist who specializes in movement disorders so that the patient’s quality of life can be maintained as long as possible. Your neurologist can also help you locate and connect to some of the many support groups, organizations, and resources available to help with both the patient and the family and caregiver(s).

Innovative research is underway and aims to find better treatment options and ultimately hope and a cure for this debilitating condition.  If you suspect that you or someone you love may be suffering from Huntington’s Chorea, contact Sarasota Neurology for an appointment.


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Patients are being treated currently at Sarasota Neurology with PRP (platelet rich plasma) for a wide variety of joint pain and other pain issues. Among the more common uses for PRP are knee pain, shoulder pain and other painful conditions such as plantar fasciitis, tennis elbow, some types of low back pain. PRP can also be used in patients that have residual joint pain from having had orthopedic arthroscopic knee or shoulder surgery.

PRP works to heal painful joints by using the patients’ own natural biological healing mechanism. The injured or damaged tissue in the joints, ligament and tendons or muscle send out chemical signals that there is injury or incomplete healing. PRP has receptors on the active platelets that seek out these damaged tissues. The PRP graft then biologically and molecularly attach to the damage tissue and trigger the natural healing process of making new collagen. This process takes six weeks to have a full effect although actual healing can continue for up to three months.

PRP may be used in some patients as an alternative to having surgery on their knees, rotator cuffs or in cases of plantar fasciitis (foot pain). Beginning in early 2011, Sarasota Neurology will be offering a new and innovative uses for PRP. This highly effective treatment is ideal for patients who would prefer to avoid the cost, pain and time involved in having surgery for the same problem. Check back with us in February to get more details of this exciting treatment with PRP in Sarasota.


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Migraine headaches are a common medical condition in the United States, affecting approximately 12% of the entire population. It is estimated that there are 35-45 million migraine and headaches sufferers in the U.S.  An unfortunate fact is that only 50% of all headache and migraine patients are medically treated. Individuals with different types of headaches (or migraines) are either undiagnosed or undertreated. In the 21st century, it is not necessary to suffer needlessly from migraine headache – the number one medical cause of temporary, total disability in the United States.

A new migraine medication has been approved by the FDA for use in treatment of acute migraine attacks. This new medication is called Sumavel DosePro.  Sumavel is an injectable form of the well known migraine medication: sumatriptan. Sumatriptan was first released in United States in 1992 as Imitrex injectable and subsequently the tablet form. Imitrex injectable system uses a small needle to administer the medication, sumatriptan. While this was one of the most effective treatments for acute migraine attacks, it did involve a minor needle stick. For patients who did not tolerate the thought of a needle stick, even this excellent therapy was not an option for them. Sumavel overcomes this problem by the use of a unique, needle-free injector system. Sumavel uses pressurized air to administer the medication. This is demonstrated in this video.

Sumavel comes in a self-contained injector kit. There is no need for alcohol swabs or drawing up sumatriptan into a syringe. With Sumavel a migraine patient, experiencing an acute migraine attack, needs only to snap of the safety cap, flip the small injector lever and press the injector firmly against the skin on the lower, outer abdomen or thigh. Pressurized nitrogen (a neutral gas) causes the sumatriptan change into an aerosol form and this is literally pushed through the skin into the subcutaneous tissue. This delivers a full dose of sumatriptan (6 mg) into the patient. Therapeutic effect and migraine relief can occur in as few as ten minutes. When the injector releases the pressurized air, you will hear and feel a pop noise.  There is a slight stinging sensation when the medication is pushed across the skin, but there is no needle involved. The used injector can then be disposed of in any trash receptacle. As there is no needle, special disposal is not necessary. Most insurances cover this new, novel migraine therapy.

Migraine headaches remain a major health problem in the United States. Migraines are a leading cause of missed school and work. For migraine sufferers who have too many headache attacks, this can lead to the risk of losing their job. This is unnecessary as many excellent and effective migraine control therapies are available. If you suffer from migraines, cluster headaches or any type of headache, do yourself a favor – call Sarasota Neurology for an appointment. As a migraine specialist, Dr. Kassicieh can help to improve your quality of life, control your migraines and give you your life back.


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As a neurologist who sees many patients with neck, back and various joint pains, I practice an area of medicine known as neuro-orthopedics. As such, I treat patients for their pain without surgical intervention. Many patients with neck, back and joint pain (knee pain, shoulder pain, elbow pain, etc.) can be successfully treated without invasive surgery and the many risk that go along with this. With surgery there is also a prolonged recovery time and need for extensive rehabilitation. The area of medicine that applies to successfully treating patients without surgery or use of narcotic medications is known as regenerative medicine. In this field, platelet rich plasma is injected into the affected joint, tendon, ligament or soft tissue area that has pain and is failing to heal completely. Tendons attach muscle to bone and ligaments attach bones to bones. Platelet rich plasma (PRP) is the concentrated healing components of the blood. Only one percent of the blood contains the bioactive proteins and platelets that are involved in healing. Through a specialized process, we can take the patient’s own blood and concentrate the platelets and bioactive proteins up to 500%. This small amount of concentrated PRP is then injected into the joint or other body area, that needs regeneration, after local anesthetic is administered. The PRP graft is then activated with thrombin and the healing process begins. Using the patient’s own blood eliminates the risk of transmitting disease and prevents graft rejection. PRP also has the benefit of being antimicrobial, killing off bacteria thereby limiting the risk of infection. David Crane, MD published an excellent overview of platelet rich plasma.

Platelet rich plasma works by first being injected into the affected area and activated. The activated platelets attach themselves to the damaged tissue, whether that be tendons, ligaments, muscle or bone. The platelets release alpha granules and dense particles. The small packets contain powerful bioactive proteins that begin the healing process. The alpha granules contain clotting factors, growth factors, cytokines and adhesion molecules. These substances allow the PRP graft to attach to the damaged tissue and start recruiting other healing cells to migrate into the area. The dense particles contain proteins that allow the platelets to clump together, forming the structural matrix of the PRP graft.

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Carpal tunnel syndrome is the most common “pinched nerve” condition that neurologists see. It is a form of compression neuropathy The typical patient comes in with complaints of hand or arm pain associated with one or more numb fingers. There is usually sparing of the little finger. This painful numbness will frequently wake affected patients from their sleep. They will complain of a swollen feeling in their hand (or both hands) associated with painful numbness affecting all but the little finger.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by compression of the median nerve (the “carpal tunnel nerve”) as it pass under the carpal tunnel ligament. The carpal tunnel is located at the wrist. There is a small band of tissue across this to hold down the median nerve and vein. When the carpal tunnel becomes too narrowed, the median nerve becomes “pinched” and the vein is compressed. This combination of events results in the hand becoming numb and swollen. Carpal tunnel symptoms frequently occur only at night, during sleep. This is because we all have a tendency to sleep with our wrists slightly flexed. This position further narrows the carpal tunnel, causing symptoms. As the carpal tunnel narrows further, with time, patients will develop daytime hand numbness. Holding a newspaper, magazine or steering wheel can bring on symptoms. In more severe cases hand grip weakness can occur. Patients find that they have difficulty removing jar lids or may drop objects. Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs in both hand about 50% of the time.

CTS is diagnosed, most commonly by a neurologist, on the basis of the patient’s symptoms and detailed neurological exam. Electrical diagnostic testing, nerve conduction studies (NCV), are necessary to confirm carpal tunnel syndrome – particularly if surgery is being considered. Many patients can have carpal tunnel symptoms and have normal NCV studies. These patients are not candidates for surgery. The standard of care medical treatment for CTS is wearing a cock-up wrist brace. These braces prevent wrist flexion, thereby reducing the pressure on the median nerve. Frequently patients can “cure” their CTS with wearing a brace. For more severe symptoms with abnormal NCV studies, surgical decompression may be indicated. This is a procedure done under local anesthesia. A small incision is made at the wrist and the carpal ligament is cut. This relieves the pressure on the median nerve. Success rate for this surgery is approximately 90%.

If you feel that you have carpal tunnel syndrome, you should see a neurologist and have diagnostic studies performed. Most patients will do well with conservative, non-surgical treatment. For more detailed information click here.


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