Deb's Story

Movement disorders program provides physical and emotional benefits
Deb Hopkins

Having Parkinson’s disease isn’t easy, but Deb Hopkins says Rush Copley’s Movement Disorders Program has made living with the disease easier. The story she shares is like that of other patients who have found relief – both physical and emotional through the exercise and art therapy classes and support group meetings. Read about the impact the program has had on Deb’s life.

I believe to this day that God had a plan. I entered the Movement Disorders Program by chance when my caregiver and I were going to join the Rush Copley Healthplex. I walked up the ramp at the Healthplex, which was very difficult — almost like climbing a mountain — and saw this particular exercise class. I was standing outside of the room looking in when one of the ladies in the class came out and invited me in. I don’t know why but I told her I had Parkinson’s and didn’t think I could do what they were doing. She smiled and said, “In this room, we all have some type of movement disorder.”

Fast forward to today. I have been in the program for five years and the classes have grown so much. Exercise, pool therapy, art and music therapy, support group, Mind and Body (similar to yoga) and boxing are offered. In these programs, I am able to laugh, cry, vent and just be me. The exercise class has helped me strengthen my muscles and improve my balance, endurance, and coordination. It has also taught me how to do things a different way and still be successful. Pool therapy helps me with walking and balance — and I don’t have to rely on my walker. I feel like I am in control when I get in the water. Boxing works on my coordination, timing, walking and balance and helps me release the frustration I feel because of Parkinson’s. I have been told I hit the bags hard!

Mind and Body is a time to stretch, relax and meditate. Art therapy helps bring out my creativity as well as any emotions that I may have on that particular day. The best part is I don’t have to be artistic! And music therapy has strengthened my voice and improved my breathing, which were two problems that were becoming difficult.

Support group always has a speaker and lots of information as well as a time for caregivers to get into a small group and exchange ideas or get rid of emotions they don’t want us to see. This is also a time for us to get to know each other and maybe talk about what’s going on with us — if we want to. We also have great parties at holiday time just to have fun.

The leaders associated with this program have become my angels here on earth. We have become family. At times I see the emotion that weighs on them because of what we go through.

We all know that Parkinson’s — or any type of movement disorder — is not easy to cope with but having the Movement Disorders Program activities and staff help us know that we are loved.

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