Treating Disorders of the Peripheral and Autonomic Nervous System


The Center for Autonomic and Peripheral Nerve Disorders is an international center for research, investigation, testing, and treatment of disorders of the peripheral and autonomic nervous system, which controls the automatic body functions such as heart rate, blood pressure, sweating, and bowel, bladder and sexual function.

We provide evaluation, testing, and treatment for patients with these disorders, as well as opportunities to participate in our active research program.

What does autonomic testing entail?

During the test session we will measure heart rate and blood pressure in response to a variety of stimuli such as deep breathing, active standing and passive, head-up tilting on a tilt-table. In addition to this, we will measure skin responses to deep breathing and mild electrical stimuli. All testing is non-invasive and painless.

Pre-test Instructions

  1. Avoid ingesting alcohol and over-the-counter medications like nasal decongestants.
  2. Cardiovascular medications should be avoided for one to three days prior to the test where permitted by your primary care physician.
  3. Do not ingest caffeine or any other artificial stimulants in the six hours preceding the study.
  4. Avoid eating in the two hours preceding the study. Patients (especially diabetics) should be sure to eat well about three hours before the study (unless specifically requested not to by their physician).
  5. Wear a short sleeved, loose-fitting top.
  6. Bring your insurance information and a list of your current medications, including dosages. You will be asked to thoroughly fill out a short questionnaire concerning your medical history and symptoms.

Meet Our Team

Roy L. Freeman, MD

Professor, Neurology, Harvard Medical School

Christopher H. Gibbons, MD

Associate Professor, Neurology, Harvard Medical School