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Dr. Goldman in Chicago Tribune Health article on Parkinson Disease

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Chicago Tribune Health Article

Dr. Goldman, Section Chief, Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders, speaks for her expertise on Parkinson's disease.

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Parkinson’s disease — a progressive movement disorder — has no cure, but better treatments are giving more hope

If you had told Rick Mazursky 13 years ago that he would be working out most days, hitting stickers on a boxing bag while simultaneously spelling words aloud, or balancing on a stability ball while throwing punches, he wouldn’t have believed it.

But the investor, inventor and entrepreneur says that these elaborate routines have saved him from going into a deep depression after a dire diagnosis.

Initially, a tiny tremor in Mazursky’s index finger and thumb caused his internist to send him to a neurologist. After some tests, the neurologist delivered a diagnosis: Mazursky had Parkinson’s disease, a progressive neurodegenerative disorder.

“I didn’t take it well. I was so shocked by it all,” says the 75-year-old Northbrook resident.

Mazursky, former president of toymaker Vtech, recalls a psychologist telling him, “You have to live for the moment.” Living for the moment meant Mazursky became as committed to countering Parkinson’s disease as he was to being an inventor with 14 patents.

Mazursky now takes three medications a day and works out at Movement Revolution, where exercise specialists tailor workouts for people with neurological conditions including Parkinson’s disease.

While Mazursky is taking charge of his Parkinson’s disease, it’s not an easy path. The progression of Parkinson’s disease can be devastating for individuals and their loved ones, though hope and new treatments to lessen symptoms are in store.

In the past five-plus years, there’s been great interest in harnessing technology to help people with walking, balance and speech

Jennifer G. Goldman, MD, section chief of the Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Program

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At Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, adaptive sports and fitness programs provide tools to help patients with physical challenges so they can continue to exercise on their own after finishing physical or occupational therapy.

Specialists use computerized motion analysis, assistive technology programs for speech, and other technology that improves gait, manual dexterity and cognition to aid people with Parkinson’s disease with daily tasks and communication.

Varying symptoms

Not everyone will experience all the symptoms, but Parkinson’s disease typically starts with mild signs such as tremors and changes in posture, walking and facial expression. In the advanced stages, stiffness in the legs may make it impossible to stand or walk, confining individuals to a wheelchair or bed. They may need around-the-clock nursing care, and they may experience delusions or dementia. Symptoms usually begin gradually and then become more severe over time, though progression and intensity is different for each individual.

Read more on Chicago Health

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