Parkinson’s Program

Parkinson’s disease & movement disorders

Parkinson’s disease may be part of your life, but it shouldn’t define it. We can help you keep your symptoms in check. 

Parkinson’s disease is a brain disorder that leads to shaking (tremors) and difficulty with walking, movement, and coordination. While there is no cure, treatments can reduce the symptoms and improve your quality of life.

Diagnosing Parkinson’s Disease

Diagnosing Parkinson’s disease can be difficult, particularly in the early stages of the disease. We use neurological exams, SPECT scans, and MRI to assist in diagnosis.

Aurora BayCare offers DaTscan to help confirm a diagnosis.  DaTscan is an imaging technology that uses small amounts of a radioactive drug to help determine how much dopamine is available in a person's brain.  A SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography) scanner measures the amount and location of the drug in the brain.

Parkinson’s Treatment Options

Once you have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, the next step is to select the best treatment option. The goal is to control your symptoms and relieve any disabilities so you can continue to lead an active life.

  • Lifestyle Modifications: Not everyone with Parkinson’s disease requires medication. Treatment involves lifestyle changes in areas such as nutrition, exercise, and relaxation therapy to minimize symptoms.
  • Medication: Our goal is to find the right sequence, timing and combination of medications to manage the physical and psychological symptoms of the disease on a long-term basis. No two patients react to a drug the same way, so it takes time to find the appropriate medication and dosage.
  • Rehabilitation: Physical, occupational and speech therapies can counter the complications associated with Parkinson’s disease and help patients remain active.
  • Surgery: Surgical treatments may help with the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, but it cannot cure the disease or stop its progression.

Surgery for Parkinson’s Disease

Depending on the severity of your condition, your doctor may recommend surgery as a treatment option. Most surgical treatments are aimed at reducing the tremors or the rigidity that comes with the disease. Surgical options may include:

  • Deep Brain Stimulation: A small electrode is implanted in the critical parts of the brain that control movement. The patient is also implanted with a “stimulator” device that sends signals to this electrode to normalize tremor-causing brain activity. Deep brain stimulation is only a viable option if patients have been responsive to standard Parkinson’s medications like L-dopa.  Aurora BayCare is the only provider north of Milwaukee providing this highly-specialized treatment. 

Surgery may help with the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, but it cannot cure the disease or stop its progression.

Parkinson’s Support

Aurora BayCare offers Parkinson’s support services to help you live a healthier, fuller life.

  • Parkinson’s Rehabilitation: We’ll teach you tips and strategies for coping with movement problems. Individual rehabilitation services may include physical therapyoccupational therapyspeech therapy, and swallowing and dietary therapy.
  • Mobile and Fit Parkinson’s Class: This exercise class is designed so that people with Parkinson’s disease can get better and stay better through exercise. The class targets movement deficits caused by Parkinson’s disease with the goal of reducing falls, improving function, and improving quality of life.
  • Health Counseling: Many patients experience anxiety and depression after their diagnosis. Specialized therapy sessions can help you learn to cope with the emotional challenges.

Our patient care plans include support services for your loved ones. We can also provide information and referrals for facilitating home safety, maintaining independence, and finding caregiver support.

Parkinson’s Research

As part of the Aurora Health System, we are linked to Aurora’s Parkinson’s Research Institute. Located at the Aurora Sinai Medical Center in Milwaukee, it is one of only a few organizations with a sufficient database to research the causes of Parkinson’s disease.

At any given time, the Aurora Health Care Regional Parkinson’s Care Center and the Parkinson’s Research Institute are involved with a number of studies to evaluate the effectiveness of drugs and treatment methods not yet available to the general public. As a patient at Aurora BayCare, you will have access to the latest in Parkinson’s research and treatment options.

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