The Face of Neurosurgery


Erika Petersen, M.D., Associate Professor

Erika Petersen, M.D., became the first female neurosurgery faculty member at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in 2010. Petersen was recruited to the school to build and direct a program in functional neurosurgery and neuromodulation.  The program began with three collaborating doctors and has grown to more than a dozen practitioners who are focused on minimally invasive surgery and neuromodulation for restoration of neurological function. Dr. Petersen uses implantable devices in the brain and spine to improve movement disorders and decrease pain. For example, deep brain stimulation for Parkinson’s disease restores a patient’s independence by improving their balance and movement, while spinal cord stimulation reduces pain and improves function without opioids.  Dr. Petersen’s work is representative of the UAMS Neurosciences division’s mission of bringing world class care for the brain and spine close to home. 

“The team I work with for deep brain stimulation is unique in the state,” Petersen said. “We provide a multidisciplinary approach to treating patients with movement disorders. Some of the other procedures I perform are only offered in Arkansas at UAMS. In fact, I implanted a new design of spinal stimulator electrode that was one of the first in the world. I am grateful for the level of dedication to patients I see in my colleagues.” Dr. Petersen is praised by her colleagues and her patients for improving the quality of life for many.

 Dr. Petersen teaches nationally and has published many peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. She recently published a book that serves as a resource for the treatment of head and face pain. Every April, she directs a Parkinson’s Symposium that brings patients, caregivers, and medical professionals together to learn more about treating and living with the disease. Dr. Petersen also serves as the department’s Residency Program Director responsible for the education and training of residents who graduate to provide neurosurgical care in the state of Arkansas.

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