“Practicing neurology blends my fascination with the brain with the opportunity to directly help individual patients.”
Dr. David Sommer originally thought he was going to be a scientist when he was in college at Rice University, and thought about getting a Ph.D. in physics. However, after volunteering at a hospital in Houston when he was an undergraduate, he became more interested in medicine. “After a while, I found out that I enjoyed working with people every day more than I enjoyed research, so I thought being a doctor made the most sense for me,” he explains.
After considering a career in primary care, Dr. Sommer decided to study the specialty of neurology. “I found neurology was a way to blend my fascination with the brain with the more hands-on aspects of medicine.” At Reliant Medical Group, Dr. Sommer practices general neurology but also has a particular interest and subspecialty training in treating movement disorders such as tremor, Parkinson’s disease, dystonias, and Tourette’s syndrome. He has also been trained in patient selection and post-operative management of deep brain stimulation treatment for tremor and Parkinson’s disease.
Dr. Sommer is encouraged by the many different treatments that he is able to offer his patients. “20 or 30 years ago, there were very few neurologic diseases that had effective treatments. Fortunately, over the last three decades, we’ve had more effective treatments to draw upon. Although neurologic diseases are still a challenge to treat, we can make a real difference for many patients.”
Many of Dr. Sommer’s patients suffer from Parkinson’s disease, a chronic and progressive disorder of the brain that often causes significant tremors and slowing of patients’ movements. “Managing Parkinson’s requires a lot of nuanced care because the disease you are treating is a moving target. Plus the side effects of medication become more of a concern as the disease progresses. That’s why it’s so important to build a trusting, long-term relationship with your patient.”
Whatever neurological disease Dr. Sommer is treating, he always puts the concerns of the patient first. “I tend to take a fairly holistic view of neurologic complaints. The problems of the brain are very complex, but the tools we have to address them are still relatively simple. I find that most patients are very understanding when you talk to them about the limitations of medicine. ”
When he is not with his patients, Dr. Sommer enjoys spending time with his family and staying in shape by training for triathlons and half-marathons. He is also a big fan of music, ranging from contemporary classical to indie-rock. Dr. Sommer also plays the piano as well as some guitar and likes to sing in choral groups.
American Board of Psychiatry & Neurology
Duke University School of Medicine, Medical Education
Duke Medical Center, Internship
Duke Medical Center, Residency
Duke Medical Center (Movement Disorders), Fellowship
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