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Rush University Medical Center Parkinson Disease

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The Evolution Of Treatments

Parkinson’s Disease Research at Rush

The history of Parkinson’s disease is tightly linked to therapeutic interventions, ranging from serendipitous observations to controlled clinical trials of specifically designed agents.

Parkinson devoted a chapter of his monograph to considerations respecting the means of cure . In humility and perhaps with a vision toward current concepts of neuroprotection, he hoped for the identification of a treatment by which the progress of the disease may be stopped . To this end, he advocated very early therapeutic intervention when signs were largely confined to the arms without balance and gait impairments. Reflecting therapeutic approaches of the early nineteenth century, Parkinson recommended venesection, specifically advocating bloodletting from the neck, followed by vesicatories to induce blistering and inflammation of the skin. Small pieces of cork were purposefully inserted into the blisters to cause a sufficient quantity of purulent discharge . All these efforts were designed to divert blood and inflammatory pressure away from the brain and spinal cord, and in this way, decompress the medulla that Parkinson considered the seat of neurological dysfunction.

Clinical Trials For Parkinsons Disease

At Rush, the longstanding Parkinsons Disease and Movement Disorders Program has a strong commitment to studying new treatments for patients with Parkinsons disease. Because the scientific questions and patient concerns change during the course of this disease, a comprehensive program needs to have multiple programs testing new therapies.

In the early phase of Parkinsons disease, when symptoms are very mild, the primary research focus is to develop interventions that halt or slow the progression of disability. In the midpoint of the disease, improved treatments of the core signs of Parkinsons disease become the focus, because tremor, slowness, stiffness and balance difficulties can be inadequately controlled by currently available medications. In the advanced stages of Parkinsons disease, concerns focus increasingly on non-motor concerns such as cognitive problems, apathy and hallucinations.

Many patients and their families participate in research to gain access to these new treatments and to advance the scientific understanding of Parkinsons disease for the good of all people in the world with this disease. These research studies provide not only the possibility of a new treatment, but research subjects spend more time with staff, receive education, and often meet other research subjects, thereby broadening their understanding and empowerment.

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Early Signs Of Parkinson’s Disease

Early signs of Parkinson’s disease can be difficult to notice. However, if you experience the following early signs, speak with your primary care doctor.

The sooner you are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, the sooner you can begin treatment to help prevent deterioration.

  • Loss of sense of smell
  • Chronic constipation
  • Physically acting out your dreams at night

Movement Disorders Patient Education Resources


The Rush Parkinsons Disease and Movement Disorders Program team is committed to helping people with movement disorders live their best lives. This includes providing comprehensive education to empower patients, families and caregivers to navigate the challenges of a movement disorder diagnosis.

Were pleased to offer the following expert resources, created by or featuring our internationally recognized providers. These videos can help you learn about symptom management, exciting new treatment options, promising research, and strategies for improving your overall health and well-being.

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Pharmacological Advances: Charcot And Gowers

Early treatment of Parkinson’s disease. Prescription dated 1877 from the College of Physicians of Philadelphia Library. In treating Parkinson’s disease, Charcot used belladonna alkaloids as well as rye-based products that had ergot activity, a feature of some currently available dopamine agonists. Charcots advice was empiric and preceded the recognition of the well-known dopaminergic/cholinergic balance that is implicit to normal striatal neurochemical activity .

Everything, or almost everything, has been tried against this disease. Among the medicinal substances that have been extolled and which I have myself administered to no avail, I need only enumerate a few .

Vibratory therapy. Charcot observed that patients with Parkinson’s disease experienced a reduction in their rest tremor after taking a carriage ride or after horseback riding. He developed a therapeutic vibratory chair that simulated the rhythmic shaking of a carriage . A vibratory helmet to shake the head and brain was later developed. Such therapies were not used widely but the availability of modern medical vibratory chairs offers an opportunity to confirm or refute Charcots observation.

Rush Adds Telemedicine Management Of Dbs For Parkinsons Essential Tremor

Newswise Rush University Medical Center is the first in Chicago and one of the first in the nation to offer a new FDA-approved telemedicine option for deep brain stimulation patients. Using the new system by Abbott called NeuroSphere Virtual Clinic, DBS patients and their physicians are now not only able to communicate remotely, in real time, but also to prescribe treatment settings and ensure a proper response and device functionality.

Through NeuroSphere Virtual Clinic, the physician and patient connect via a secure in-app video chat. The remote programming feature, available within the Abbott patient controller app, provides a simple and secure connection during which the clinician can prescribe treatment settings remotely to the patient’s neurostimulation device.

Rush was chosen as one of only a handful of medical centers to help launch the remote neuromodulation technology, which is the first of its kind in the United States.

In DBS treatment, electrodes implanted in targeted areas within the brain provide electrical pulses to help control symptoms such as tremors similar to the way a heart pacemaker works. The electrodes are connected to the neurostimulator, a small device implanted under the skin below the collarbone.

Telemedicine is increasingly recognized as an efficient care model that is the way of the future, and remote programming ensures that our patients with DBS systems are not left behind.

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Movement Disorders Support Programs

Movement disorders support services can improve your symptoms and your emotional well-being.

Movement disorders support services can improve your symptoms and your emotional well-being.

Rush Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Care support services help patients maximize their movement, coordination and quality of life.

The following programs are currently available.

Preventions And Treatments For Parkinsons Are Urgently Needed

Parkinson’s Disease & Medication – What’s New

There presently is no cure for PD, which is chronic and progressive that is, it gets worse over time. It occurs most commonly in the elderly, and results from the death of a large number of neurons, or brain cells, in a particular part of the brain called the substantia nigra. The diseases distinctive marker is the presence of Lewy bodies in that area, and a big part of Kordowers research is trying to understand better how and why they develop.

Symptoms of the disease include a slowing of movement, diminishment of the ability to plan movement, abnormal stiffness, and uncontrollable movements in resting limbs. Early symptoms can include disordered sleep and changes in the way odors are perceived. Later in the course of the disease, PD patients can also fall or develop dementia, two leading causes of nursing-home admissions. Finding a cure or a way to prevent the disease, as well as treatments that ease its symptoms, are urgent goals.

A drug called Levodopa can be an effective treatment for PD, but while it provides relief, it doesnt stop the ravages of the disease. Also, Levodopa usefulness tends to diminish over time due to the emergence of serious side effects.

We need new therapies and strategies for PD, Kordower says.

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How Rush University Medical Center Is Transforming Neurosurgical Care Insights From 4 Physician Leaders

For many patients, the daily suffering from debilitating conditions like essential tremor and tremor-dominant Parkinson’s disease has become an all too familiar and unwelcomed way of life. For years, medications and invasive surgeries have been their main or primary treatment options.

However, since 2016, a revolutionary innovation by Insightec has helped to quietly transform patient lives all over the world. Using acoustic energy, hospitals and neurosurgeons are helping to transform patient care by using focused ultrasound to precisely and effectively treat deep inside the brain in a single outpatient procedure.

Beckers Hospital Review recently spoke with four leaders at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago about this groundbreaking technology:

  • K. Ranga Rama Krishnan, MB, ChB, CEO, Rush University System for Health
  • Richard Byrne, MD, Chairman, Department of Neurosurgery
  • Leo Verhagen Metman, MD, PhD, Director, Movement Disorder Interventional Program

These leaders discussed the role innovative technology is playing in transforming care in their organization, described how focused ultrasound has enhanced the patient experience in neurosciences and shared their perspectives on the future of neuroscience care and innovation.

Strategic investments in technology require constant environmental scanning

Focused ultrasound can be life changing for essential tremor and tremor-dominant Parkinson’s patients

Icipate In Clinical Trials

If you are interested in participating in clinical trials for Parkinsons disease and other movement disorders, see the ongoing trials available at Rush. For more information about our research programs, call 563-2900 and press 4.

Benefits of Participating in Clinical Trials

  • Physical improvements: You will have access to new treatments that are not yet available to the public. These new treatments may help improve your symptoms, function and quality of life.
  • Emotional fulfillment: Being involved in studies can give you a sense of control and empowerment over your disease.
  • Contributing to the greater good: You will be actively involved in making a difference in the future of Parkinsons disease and other movement disorders by playing a role in getting closer to a cure.

What We Study

  • Epidemiology: Studying who gets Parkinsons and other movement disorders in the hope of identifying factors that may prevent the disease.
  • Features of the disease: Studying characteristics of the disease to increase our understanding of the disease itself or its affect on physical and emotional health.
  • Protective therapies: Studying new drugs or surgical approaches to help slow or stop the degenerative brain processes.
  • Studying new drugs or procedures that help control the symptoms of degenerative brain processes, while not directly treating the degenerative process itself.

Participating in a Study

  • Consent: If selected, you will sign consent forms agreeing to comply with the study requirements.
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    Center Of Excellence Series: Rush University Medical Center Provides Critically Needed Parkinsons Mental Health Program

    Most people associate Parkinsons disease with tremors, a motor symptom. However, non-motor symptoms are common and can be more troublesome and disabling than motor symptoms. They can include cognitive changes, mood and sleep disorders, autonomic symptoms or weight loss. Rush University Medical Center, a Parkinsons Foundation Center of Excellence, is not only on the front lines of PD-related cognitive research, but is actively hosting life-changing programs targeting these non-motor, and in particular, cognitive and behavioral symptoms.

    Jennifer G. Goldman, MD, MS, is unique in the Parkinsons field. She is a fellowship-trained movement disorder specialist with additional background in behavioral neurology and neuropsychiatry an uncommon combination that provides her with a unique skillset to treat Parkinsons non-motor symptoms.

    In between seeing patients, Dr. Goldman conducts research studies to better understand what causes a person with PD to experience neuropsychiatric symptoms . She utilizes MRI brain scans and clinical assessments to evaluate cognitive and behavioral effects. More broadly, Dr. Goldmans research tries to find the mechanisms of the brain and biomarkers that contribute to Parkinsons-related non-motor symptoms.

    It is a well-known problem that many doctors do not have enough time during an appointment to truly explain and talk through mental health issues, said Dr. Goldman.

    A Day at the Integrated Cognitive Behavioral Movement Disorder Clinic

    Effects Of Endurance Exercise Training On The Motor And Non

    Puzzling Out Parkinsons Progression

    Article type: Review Article

    Authors: Lamotte, Guillaume | Rafferty, Miriam R. | Prodoehl, Janey | Kohrt, Wendy M. | Comella, Cynthia L. | Simuni, Tanya | Corcos, Daniel M.

    Affiliations: Department of Neurology, University Hospital of Caen, Caen, France | Graduate Program in Neuroscience, University of Illinois at Chicago, Illinois, USA | Department of Physical Therapy & Human Movement Sciences, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois, USA | Physical Therapy Program, Midwestern University, Downers Grove, Illinois, USA | The University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Division of Geriatric Medicine, Aurora, Colorado, USA | Department of Neurological Sciences, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois, USA | Department of Neurology, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois, USA

    Note: Correspondence to: Guillaume Lamotte, Department of Neurology, University Hospital of Caen, CHU de Caen Basse Normandie, Avenue Cote de Nacre, 14033 Caen, Basse Normandie, France. Tel.: +33 231064617 Fax: +33 231065116 E-mail:

    Keywords: Parkinson’s disease, endurance, exercise, aerobic exercise, motor activity, gait, balance

    DOI: 10.3233/JPD-140425

    Journal: Journal of Parkinson’s Disease, vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 21-41, 2015

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    Received Parkinsons Foundation Funding From 1957 Present

    Columbia University Medical Center researchers and doctors are leaders in Parkinsons science and training. They have developed scales to assess the severity of Parkinsons, tested new drugs to treat the disease and are leaders in uncovering the pathogenesis of the disease. Recent grants have supported research in neuroinflammation, genetics, the development of dopamine neurons, neuropsychology, behavioral effects and clinical trials.

    Highlight: Finding Potential Targets for Preventing or Treating ParkinsonsThe most common Parkinsons-associated gene mutations occur in the LRRK2 gene. Researchers at the Parkinsons Foundation Research Center at Columbia University Medical Center showed for the first time why the faulty LRRK2 protein is harmful, and how it can block the normal cell recycling process. This study, published in Nature Neuroscience, 2013, builds upon earlier Parkinsons Foundation-funded work. The study showed that chaperone-mediated autophagy was capable of recycling healthy LRRK2 proteins, but it was not as successful in breaking down thoseLRRK2 proteins that had the mutation found in people with Parkinsons. These faulty LRRK2 proteins also prevent other proteins, such as alpha-synuclein , from breaking down and getting recycled.

    This study shows the need for developing therapies that can help restart or speed up cellular recycling therapies that could potentially help people whose PD has no known genetic cause as well as those who have LRRK2 mutations.

    Internationally Recognized For High

    For two decades, Kordower and the lab he oversees at Rush have been at the forefront of new discoveries about Parkinsons disease. Known as PD for short, its the second-most common neurodegenerative disease, with more than a million suffering from it in the United States alone.

    Kordower is the director of the Rush Research Center for Brain Repair, has more than 400 papers and book chapters to his credit, and holds or has held numerous leadership positions at medical journals and organizations. His research on neurodegenerative disease, including Alzheimers and Huntingtons diseases, has appeared in such prestigious journals as Nature, Science and the New England Journal of Medicine, and he is one of the most-cited researchers in the field which reflects both the importance of his work, and his colleagues faith in it.

    We think our lab is internationally recognized because we do high-quality work, he says.

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    Rush University Medical Center Named Center Of Excellence By Parkinson’s Foundation

    The Parkinsons Foundation today announced the addition of Rush University Medical Center to its global network of institutions the foundation has designated as Centers of Excellence. The newest designation builds upon Rushs longstanding history and recognition as a Parkinsons Foundation Research Center.

    The Center of Excellence network is a proving ground for new therapies and care models through grant programs and targeted initiatives such as the Parkinsons Outcomes Project, the largest clinical study of Parkinsons disease. This sought-after designation, based on clinical and research excellence, has achieved worldwide recognition.

    This designation is an enormous honor and recognition of the vital program that we have developed to integrate our three-part mission of research, education and patient care excellence, said Dr. Christopher Goetz, professor of neurological sciences and pharmacology and director of the Parkinsons Disease and Movement Disorders Program at Rush. With this new designation, the faculty and staff will direct our efforts continually to enhance our services and work in partnership with our patients and families to meet these three missions.

    From Bench To Bedside

    Motor Fluctuations and Dyskinesia in Parkinson’s Disease

    While Kordower conducts his research in laboratories, his translational science studies have led to seven clinical trials so far. He says that most basic researchers feel lucky to have one such experience. None of these trials has resulted in a treatment indeed, they have all sent Kordower back to the lab to try out different hypotheses, or at least variations on them.

    That process is the normal course of scientific inquiry, Kordower notes it takes time and many trials to develop a hypothesis that proves entirely correct. Still, being able to watch his basic science translate to clinical trials is something he especially values about the collaborative environment at Rush.

    Other hospitals talk about taking research from bench to bedside, but at Rush, it really happens, Kordower says.

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    Received Parkinsons Foundation Funding From 2001

    Weill Cornell Medicines Parkinsons Disease and Movement Disorders Institute specializes in the management and diagnosis of Parkinsons. The institute manages PD research studies and clinical pharmacotherapy trials.

    Highlight: New Tool Will Improve Testing of New TreatmentsWith Foundation funding, labs at Weill Cornell Medical Center and Columbia University Medical Center have made progress finding a new and powerful tool for testing new Parkinsons therapies and studying the underlying causes of the disease.

    Working with Columbia University, the Weill Cornell team created a unique mouse model that expresses a mutated form of the LRRK2 gene. Published in Nature Neuroscience, this model will help scientists create and test new Parkinsons treatments in the lab. Prior to this development, PD research was hampered, as scientists did not have a model that accurately mimicked the natural course of Parkinsons in humans.


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