Facing the Challenges of Living with Parkinson’s

The story of Judy Downes

When Judy Downes, 62, started experiencing balance problems, she didn’t think much of it. But when she started falling repeatedly and then cracked her collarbone, she decided it was time to see a doctor.

Not able to determine the cause of the falls, Judy’s doctor referred her to a neurologist, who carefully examined her movement and behavior. She was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in September 2001 when she was just 51 years old.

While a cure is yet to be found for Parkinson’s, there are treatments that help control symptoms and improve quality of life. Judy was put on medication and began physical therapy. When her doctor retired, however, she needed to find a new specialist.

Judy and her husband, Bill, attended a seminar held at Norton Brownsboro Hospital, where they heard about Angela Hardwick, M.D., the only fellowship-trained movement disorders specialist in the area, who joined Norton Neuroscience Institute.

Dr. Hardwick is the only doctor Judy has seen that keeps close contact with her,” Bill said. “After a visit, her other doctors would wait six months to a year before seeing her again. Dr. Hardwick always wants to see Judy on a regular basis. She is genuinely concerned about her and wants to help her.”

Judy continues with her medication and going to physical and speech therapy, taking on the challenges of the disease day by day.

“Treatment — whether medication, therapy or surgery — often depends on the stage of the disease,” Dr. Hardwick said. “Certain medications are best used early in the disease, before the appearance of severe symptoms. Other medications help to reduce symptoms that are already present. Rehab is beneficial for all stages of disease and can be tailored to each individual.

“The nature of Parkinson’s disease causes it to change constantly. That’s why it’s so important to keep a close eye on it and adjust medications and therapy as needed,” said Dr. Hardwick. “With the right combination of the two, people who have Parkinson’s disease are able to lead full, productive lives.”

Want to know more?

Experts in caring for patients with Parkinson’s disease are available in Louisville thanks in part to a generous donation from Elizabeth Pahk Cressman, M.D., Ph.D., to the Norton Healthcare Foundation. Her gift in memory of her husband, Frederick K. Cressman, M.D., helped establish the Cressman Center at Norton Brownsboro Hospital.


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