Multiple Sclerosis Expert in Dallas
Neurologist Darin T. Okuda, M.D., is a nationally and internationally recognized clinician-scientist and technology expert specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS) and other demyelinating disorders of the central nervous system.
Demyelinating disorders result in damage to the protective covering (myelin sheath) that surrounds nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord, causing neurological problems such as vision loss, muscle weakness, muscle stiffness and spasms, loss of sensation, and pain.
“A demyelinating disorder like multiple sclerosis is a nondiscriminatory silent thief of neurological function,” Dr. Okuda says.
For some people, disease onset may occur within both the brain and spinal cord many years – even decades – before first presenting symptoms. By the time patients are diagnosed, a considerable amount of injury to both the brain and spinal cord may already be found.
For patients with MS, Dr. Okuda focuses treatments on decreasing the frequency of attacks and slowing or stopping the onset of permanent disability. Due to the highly variable disease course from patient to patient, every person with MS has different needs and receives a tailored treatment plan.
“The effective treatment of MS extends well beyond a given disease-modifying therapy but involves a thoughtful, individualized approach that incorporates education, a determination of risk for future disease activity, an appreciation of cultural or religious beliefs, and the ability to effectively apply existing and emerging scientific data. In my opinion, a successful approach to the management of MS is not defined by a single recommendation,” Dr. Okuda says.
Internationally acclaimed researcher
Dr. Okuda has dedicated his career to improving diagnostic capabilities and advancing therapeutic approaches to MS. He often can be seen in his laboratory creating and testing unique devices that improve the lives of patients with neurological diseases.
He is recognized worldwide for his research pertaining to early disease recognition. In 2009, he first defined a distinct group of individuals who possessed MRI features typical for MS but lacked clinical symptoms related to CNS demyelination. The previously published criteria for the radiologically isolated syndrome is now known as the Okuda Criteria after being named by Nicola De Stefano, M.D., a prominent MS specialist and MRI expert in Siena, Italy.
Dr. Okuda is Director of UT Southwestern’s Multiple Sclerosis and Neuroimmunology Imaging Program and Deputy Director of the Multiple Sclerosis Program and Clinical Center for Multiple Sclerosis.
“Our approach to care at UT Southwestern is highly differentiated, including providing access to advanced technologies that are not always available at other facilities,” Dr. Okuda says. “We offer unique MRI protocols with our 7 Tesla MRI unit, allowing us to better study brain lesions, as well as individually fabricated devices aimed at reducing central neuropathic pain and improving neurological function.”
Beyond multiple sclerosis, other demyelinating disorders that Dr. Okuda treats include neuromyelitis optica, partial and transverse myelitis, acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, radiologically isolated syndrome, and heritable demyelinating disorders.