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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 or to register.

Parkinson's 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.

Essential Tremor Support Group

The Essential Tremor Support Group is a place where people talk openly about the challenges of living with ET and exchange ideas in a comfortable and safe environment.  In addition to information about ET and helpful resources, you will find support and fellowship among others who are just like you.

Rush Copley Medical Center
2000 Ogden Avenue, Aurora
Conference Room 3
4th Monday of every month
10 to 11:30 a.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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Art Therapy

Creative Therapies for Movement Disorders

Through the art and music therapy experience individuals express and examine feelings, learn about cause and effect relationships, improve problem-solving patterns, promote social skills, develop responsibility and independence, cope with symptoms, and enhance self-esteem.

Art Therapy
Art therapy uses the creative process of art making to help participants increase their awareness of self and others, vcope with symptoms and stress and enhance cognitive abilities.

No artistic talent or knowledge is necessary to benefit from art therapy.

2018 Dates:
February 2, February 12, March 12, March 26, April 9, April 23, May 7, August 6, August 20, September 10, September 24, October 8, October 22, November 5, November 19

1:30 to 3:30 p.m.
Rush Copley Heart Institute
2088 Ogden Avenue, Aurora
2nd Floor Conference Room

Music Therapy
Music therapy is the evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish the goals of increasing speech intelligibility, pitch and loudness, improving respiratory strength, and providing social support and relaxation.

No musical experience or talent is required.

2018 Dates:
February 5, February 19, March 5, March 19, April 2, April 16, April 30, May 14, August 13, August 27, September 17, October 1, October 15, October 29, November 12, November 26

2 to 3 p.m.
Rush Copley Heart Institute
2088 Ogden Avenue, Aurora
2nd Floor Conference Room

Call 630-499-6619 for more information or to register for Art and/or Music Therapy.