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Parkinson's Disease 

Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is a complex neurodegenerative brain

disorder where there is a depletion of dopamine, a neurotransmitter, in the brain.  Dopamine is produced in an area of the brain called the substantia nigra and it helps to carry messages between neurons in the brain thereby regulating smooth coordinated movements. 

In those with PD, there is a loss of dopamine-producing brain cells being produced in the brain.  Therefore, neurons in the brain are not able to function properly leading to poor control of movements.  It is often when one loses 60-80% of these dopamine-producing cells that PD symptoms are noticed.  The loss of cells is described as neurodegeneration. 

Movement Disorders

  • Parkinson's Disease

Symptoms of Parkinson's Disease

The most common symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease include:

  • Tremor (shakiness)
  • Rigidity (stiffness)
  • Bradykinesia (slowness of movements)
  • Postural instability (impaired balance and coordination)

Parkinson’s symptoms often progress gradually in most people and signs and symptoms vary among those who suffer from this disease.  As the disease progresses, other symptoms, aside from those listed above, may be seen.  These symptoms may include difficulty swallowing, trouble speaking, urinary incontinence, altered sleep, constipation, depression, and emotional changes.  As the disease advances, cognitive decline may be seen. 

There is no specific laboratory test or scan that can be done to diagnose Parkinson’s Disease.  Along with the medical history of the patient, the neurological exam must have the presence of two of the three cardial signs of PD: tremor at rest, rigidity, and/or bradykinesias.  The final diagnosis is made after ruling out all other potential causes of such symptoms such as certain medications causing symptoms or another disease process. 

There is no cure for PD.  At this time, there have not been any medications or treatments that have conclusively been shown to reverse the disease process.  The initial treatment is medication that replaces dopamine deficit in the brain.  There are other medications that also assist in alleviating the symptoms that one may experience with PD. 

Deep brain stimulation has been a successful surgical treatment option for those that suffer from PD.  DBS acts like a brain pacemaker.  It releases high frequency electrical stimulation to a particular target area of the brain causing reorganization of the imbalanced neurotransmitters circuit thereby reducing the motor symptoms seen in PD.  Again this is not a cure for the disease but a highly successful treatment option that alleviates some of the PD symptoms.

Coping with Parkinson's

Exercise Classes

These free land and water classes are designed to benefit people with Parkinson’s by using exercise to help manage symptoms.

Emphasis is placed on exercises to improve balance, posture, flexibility, range of motion, coordination and gait. All levels of fitness ability are welcome.

Rush Copley Healthplex
Land: Tuesday, Thursday, 1-2 p.m.
Water: Friday, 1-2 p.m.

Please call 630-978-6280 for more information, the next class date or to register.

Support Group

The Parkinson’s Support Group provides information about living with Parkinson’s disease. You’ll learn about resources and programs that can help enhance your quality of life and have the opportunity to share your experiences with others. Join us to be part of our comforting and understanding community.

  • Rush Copley Heart Institute
    2088 Ogden Avenue, Aurora
    Conference Room
    First Wednesday of every month
    10 to 11:30 a.m.
  • Rush Copley Healthcare Center
    1100 W. Veterans Parkway, Yorkville
    Community Room
    Second Wednesday of every month
    1:30 to 3 p.m.

Family Caregiver Seminar

This is a free two-hour seminar for spouses, relatives, or friends who care for or live with someone who has Parkinson’s disease.

Join us for a morning of learning and sharing for PD caregivers only. This year’s program features caregivers who are embracing the challenges or their role. You will have the opportunity to interact with others who share many of the same struggles and victories as you and to offer your own pearls of wisdom.

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Group Speech & Music Therapy

Group Speech & Music Therapy

Voice and speech disorders are common in Parkinson’s disease adversely affecting communication and quality of life. Studies have shown that group music and speech therapy can be a promising intervention. Attend these eight, weekly one-hour sessions led by a licensed speech/language pathologist and a board certified music therapist to learn and practice a variety of techniques to help improve communication. Activities will be aimed at improving vocal loudness and pitch, speech intelligibility, and oral-motor coordination. No musical experience or talent is required.

Fall Session, Fridays: 8/14, 8/21, 8/28, 9/4, 9/11, 9/18, 9/25, 10/2 (register to attend all 8 sessions)
10 to 11 a.m.
Rush Copley Heart Institute, 2nd Floor Conference Room
2088 Ogden Avenue, Aurora

Spouse and caregivers are encouraged to attend.

Registration is required for this FREE program. Please call 630-499-6619.

Impulse Control Disorders in Parkinson's

Join Meagan Bailey M.D. a movement disorder fellow with the Parkinson’s disease and Movement Disorders Center at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago for a program focusing on the side effects of certain Parkinson’s medications on the motivation and rewards systems of the brain.

Some newer Parkinson’s that help the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, also cause side effects in some patients related to the other functions of dopamine in the brain. These side effects are termed ‘impulse control disorders’ and can manifest in many different ways, from overeating to problem gambling. Dr. Bailey’s discussion will focus on understanding the dopamine system that underlies some of our basic behaviors, and how these medications, such as dopamine agonists, alter this normal system to trigger the side effects that some patients experience while taking these medications.

Continental breakfast will be served.

Saturday, June 10
9 to 11 a.m.
Rush Copley Heart Institute, 2nd Floor Conference Room

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