Fall 2009
Faculty Focus

synapse: University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine

Las Vegas neurologist David Ginsburg, M.D.

Ginsburg focuses his professional interest on the treatment of neuromuscular disorders such as ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Photo by Edgar Antonio Nunez.

Neurologist Targets Neuromuscular Diseases

Story by Laura Levin

David Ginsburg, M.D., associate professor of neurology in the Las Vegas internal medicine department, is passionate about research with neuromuscular diseases and his patients.

While his interests extend to all areas of neurology, his fellowship training from the University of Southern California in the area of electrodiagnostic medicine makes him well equipped in the diagnosis and treatment of neuromuscular illnesses such as muscular dystrophy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), neuropathies and other neuromuscular conditions.

Ginsburg said the process of taking a loved one with a neuromuscular disease to see the doctor or visit a medical facility is often extremely challenging for families. This obstacle led him to become involved with the Las Vegas Multidisciplinary ALS Clinic, a clinic created specifically for the treatment of this disease.

Under the guidance of Ginsburg, the clinic provides services such as neuromuscular medicine, physical and occupational therapy, orthotics, nursing, registered dietitian services, speech and language pathology, social services, patient services liaison and respiratory therapy.

"The clinic is a one-stop shop for patients with ALS. We typically see six patients during each monthly half-day clinic, and the patient spends about three hours at the clinic so that they don't have to go to different providers to get all of their needs met," Ginsburg said.

"Each of us spends time with the patient, and at the end of the day we discuss each patient's needs to provide a specific care plan."

On the research side, Ginsburg has conducted various clinical trials over the past 16 years with neurological diseases such as diabetic neuropathy, Parkinson's disease and multiple sclerosis looking for various treatments.

One particular clinical trial led to the discovery of an effective treatment for several symptoms present with neuromuscular diseases such as limb spasticity or muscle tightness, dystonia, which means twisting movements or abnormal postures, and involuntary muscle spasms.

The procedure, an injection of botulinum toxin, acts by disrupting the chemical transmission from nerves to muscles. Ginsburg became such an expert at administering the treatment that he has been asked to train other physicians and help fine-tune their skills.

"In the last 20 years new research into specific diseases such as myasthenia gravis has resulted in significantly improved patient outcomes," Ginsburg said.

"The more patients I see with a disease without a known cure, the more it makes me want to look for it."

Ginsburg is a diplomat of the American Board of Neurology and Psychiatry and American Board of Electrodiagnostic Medicine.

He is co-director of the Muscular Dystrophy Association Clinic and medical advisor and clinic director for ALS of Nevada. He is the Nevada representative for the Northeast ALS Consortium and serves on the marketing committee of the American Association of Neuromuscular and Electrodiagnostic Medicine.

After 14 years in private practice, he joined the School of Medicine in 2007. Ginsburg, a Los Angeles native, was drawn to Las Vegas for its cultural diversity, the close proximity of family in California, as well as the lower cost of living. There was also a great need for his specialty in Las Vegas when he arrived in the mid-1990s, as there were more neurologists at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles than in all of Nevada at that time.