Parkinson’s treatment in Minnesota and western Wisconsin

At HealthPartners and Park Nicollet, we’re committed to advancing the understanding and treatment of Parkinson’s disease to improve the daily lives of our patients. Our coordinated team of neurologists, neurosurgeons, neuropsychologists and rehabilitation therapists works closely together to provide seamless care and support for you and your family.

At our nationally recognized Struthers Parkinson’s Center in Golden Valley and St. Paul, we provide dedicated treatment and support to Parkinson’s patients and their families.

If you or someone you love has Parkinson’s disease, we can help.

What is Parkinson’s?

Parkinson's disease is a progressive brain illness that affects the way you move. There are cells in the brain that produce a chemical called dopamine, which sends signals to the parts of your brain that control movement. Doctors aren’t sure why, but sometimes those dopamine-producing neurons become damaged, causing motor and non-motor symptoms.

The cause of Parkinson’s is unknown, but research shows that genetics and environmental triggers may be factors. Parkinson’s tends to affect more men than women, and the disease generally appears in middle or later life.

Promising research and treatment advancements are happening all the time, and many of the current treatment options can help you continue to live your best life.

Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease

Symptoms usually develop slowly over time and vary from person to person.

Motor symptoms may include:

  • Tremor, at rest
  • Balance and gait problems
  • Muscle stiffness or rigidity
  • Slow movement (Bradykinesia)
  • Speech changes
  • Difficulty writing

Non-motor symptoms may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Sleep disorders
  • Bladder problems
  • Drooling
  • Cognitive concerns

Because Parkinson’s disease symptoms can be diverse, if you have concerns, we recommend starting with a visit to one of our primary care doctors. Our primary care doctors are experienced in diagnosing and treating hundreds of health conditions and can help you get the answers you need. If your care requires additional expertise, your primary care doctor will connect you directly to one of our neurologists specializing in parkinson's disease.

Diagnosis

Many different health conditions can cause symptoms related to your movement, balance and speech, so our doctors may use a range of tests to find timely answers and begin developing your personalized treatment plan, including:

  • Blood test
  • MRI or CT or brain
  • DaTscan
  • Neuropsychological testing
  • Other tests recommended by your doctor
Stages of Parkinson’s disease

Parkinson’s disease impacts people in different ways. Not everyone will experience all the symptoms of Parkinson’s in the same order or intensity. But the five stages help define typical patterns of progression in Parkinson’s disease.

Stage 1

Mild symptoms that do not interfere in daily activity begin. Tremors and other movement symptoms may occur on one side of the body only. Changes in posture, walking and facial expressions are also common.

Stage 2

Symptoms start getting worse. Tremor, rigidity and other movement symptoms start to affect both sides of the body. Walking problems and poor posture may become more apparent.

Stage 3

A loss of balance and slowness of movements are milestones of the disease’s progression. Falls become more common. Symptoms begin to significantly impair daily activities.

Stage 4

Symptoms are severe and limiting. It’s possible to stand without assistance, but movement may require a walker. Help with daily activities is needed and the person becomes unable to live alone.

Stage 5

Stiffness in the legs may make it impossible to stand or walk. A wheelchair and around the clock care are required. The person may experience hallucinations and delusions. 

Treatment for Parkinson’s

Our team of experienced neurologists, neurosurgeons and other specialists are experts in treating Parkinson’s through the latest science-backed techniques. We’ll work with you to create a personalized treatment plan to manage and improve your symptoms. Treatment plans may include one or more of the following:

Therapy

Physical, occupational and speech therapy are available to help you stay active, improve your ability to take on the activities you value and to be the person you want to be. You will work with your therapist to set realistic goals, identify challenges and strategize solutions.

Support

As part of your treatment plan, you may be referred to a physical medicine and rehabilitation doctor, social worker or psychologist to help you manage the symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease. Support groups and other resources are also available to support you.

Medication

People with Parkinson's disease have low brain dopamine concentrations and medication is available to help increase or substitute for dopamine. Medications for Parkinson’s disease may also help manage problems with walking, movement and tremor. Your primary doctor or neurologist will discuss your options and find the best treatment plan for you.

Deep brain stimulation (DBS)

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) has proven to be an effective treatment method for Parkinson’s. If you’re interested in learning more about DBS, ask your doctor about the classes we offer at no cost where patients can hear from doctors and nurses about the procedure, as well as other patients who have experienced it.

Rehabilitation

We offer comprehensive rehabilitation services, including exercise classes and physical, occupational, speech and music therapy to help you manage your symptoms, prevent falls and improve your independence. We also offer resources and skill classes to help families and caregivers with continued support and education.

Education and support classes

We also offer resources and skill classes to help families and caregivers with continued support and education. Classes are available at our Golden Valley and St. Paul locations.

Day program with Club Create

We offer our licensed adult day program, Club Create, twice per week at our Golden Valley location. At Club Create, patients can enjoy a variety of services to promote creativity and improve movement. Here, patients have a place to make new friends, participate in discussions and improve their socialization skills. We also work with community artists to provide dance, horticulture and other art programs.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

The Parkinson’s Foundation is an excellent resource for learning more about Parkinson’s and living with the disease.

Scientists and neurologists are working to better understand the broad range of environmental exposures linked to Parkinson's disease. Most experts agree that Parkinson's disease is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

We accept most health insurance plans, including Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, CIGNA, HealthPartners, Medica, Medicare, PreferredOne and many others.

Not sure what your insurance covers? Call the number on the back of your card for help looking at your options.

Don’t have your card in front of you? Here are member services numbers to help you get started: