Parkinson’s Health Fair Offers Insights and Assistance to the Community

Midwestern University faculty, students provide interdisciplinary health fair at the Multispecialty Clinic

  • IL - Downers Grove
  • MWU Clinics

Faculty and students from Speech-Language Pathology and Physical Therapy coordinated the third annual Parkinson’s Health Fair at the Multispecialty Clinic in Downers Grove, where 15 individuals with Parkinson’s and 14 caregivers attended to learn more about ways to manage Parkinson’s disease.

“Parkinson’s is a progressive disease. There are ways to delay its progression and improve quality of life. We need to start when the disease is first diagnosed. Oftentimes, physicians and others do not have the idea of early intervention, and they delay until it is a bigger problem,” said Judy Ball, M.S., CCC-SLP, Clinical Associate Professor, Speech-Language Pathology.


Parkinsons Fair group photo
Students and faculty from Speech-Language Pathology and Physical Therapy work with individuals with Parkinson’s disease and their caregivers at the Parkinson’s Health Fair. 


Ms. Ball and three students from the Speech-Language Pathology program, Alana Batista (CHS-Downers Grove SLP ’25); Ashley Robinson (CHS-Downers Grove SLP ’25); and Anna Ulanski (CHS-Downers Grove SLP ’25) worked alongside Stacey Lane, PT, D.P.T., NCS, Clinical Instructor, Physical Therapy Institute; Teri Elliott-Burke, PT, D.P.T., M.H.S, Academic Clinic Coordinator, Physical Therapy, Multispecialty Clinic; Jane Borgehammar, PT, DSc, OCS, Clinical Instructor, Physical Therapy Institute; Thomas Dillon, PT, D.P.T., OCS, Clinical Assistant Professor, Physical Therapy Institute; and three Physical Therapy students Faizeen Ahmed (CHS-Downers Grove PT ’25); Brian Santos (CHS-Downers Grove PT ’25); and Leah Sindberg (CHS-Downers Grove PT ’25) to create and run the event.

Preparation for the event gave speech-language pathology and physical therapy students the chance for interprofessional collaboration. Ms. Ball said, “It increases their knowledge of other disciplines they will work with and creates knowledge to work with interdisciplinary teams to provide the best care for their clients. It also helps them know when to make a recommendation to that specific discipline.” Leah Sindberg (CHS-Downers Grove PT ’25) echoed the importance of collaboration and said the event “underscored the immense value of interdisciplinary collaboration for both me and my patients.” Leah emphasized that the contributions of the speech-language pathology students gave her insight into how Parkinson’s can affect the patients’ hearing, swallowing, speaking, and facial expressions. “As physical therapy students, we gained a deeper understanding of the ways addressing speech-related issues seamlessly intertwines with physical rehabilitation tasks. This showcases the interconnectedness of various therapeutic approaches in patient care,” Leah said.   

Ms. Ball shared she hoped the students would take away from this experience “an increased understanding of Parkinson’s overall, and how to work with an interdisciplinary team.” Ms. Ball also said the event was an opportunity for the students to meet 15 individuals with Parkinson’s and see the importance of personalizing the treatment for each one, as not everyone with Parkinson’s is experiencing the same issues. In addition, the event “helps them to understand the importance of community education and giving back to the community as well,” Ms. Ball said.

Leah concurred that she gained a deeper understanding of working with individuals in different stages of Parkinson’s disease. “As a future healthcare professional, this experience broadened my perspective on the complexities of Parkinson’s disease and the diverse needs of those affected by the disease.”  


SLP and PT students at the Parkinsons Fair
(From left): Leah Sindberg (CHS-Downers Grove PT ’25), Ashley Robinson (CHS-Downers Grove SLP ’25), Faizeen Ahmed (CHS-Downers Grove PT), Anna Ulanski (CHS-Downers Grove SLP ’25), Brian Santos (CHS-Downers Grove PT ’25), SLP, and Alana Batista (CHS-Downers Grove SLP ’25).


The physical therapy students and the speech-language pathology students worked in pairs of two at four stations. Each station discussed a different aspect of the effect of Parkinson’s disease on the body, such as sitting and standing, turning, simultaneously walking and talking, bowel function, sleep, and speech and voice. The attendees were also given a tips sheet to assist with issues affecting Parkinson’s including balance, mobility and strength, cognition, hearing, swallowing, and offered advice for caregivers. Leah added she participated at three of the four stations, and her experience included discussing sleep patterns and bowel and bladder function with patients, assessing mobility and grip strength, and evaluating a turn test. Toward the end of the session, attendees were asked to recollect small pieces of information that were provided to them, Ms. Ball said. 

Stacey Lane, PT, D.P.T., NCS, Clinical Instructor, Physical Therapy Institute, said, “The health fair gave students a unique and interactive learning environment, while providing an opportunity to show initiative in planning and executing a community event. We were so proud of the way they engaged with the participants and self-reflected on their experience.”

Students gained experience working with individuals living with Parkinsons and their caretaker as a part of their path to becoming patient-centered healthcare professionals. Interdisciplinary collaboration and providing educational opportunities while giving back to the community are among the additional benefits of a Midwestern University education. 

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