paul wicks

More Than Meets the Eye: Non-motor Symptoms in Young-onset Parkinson’s Disease

Most people think of Parkinson’s disease (PD) as a condition of aging, and most of the time they’re right. Looking at the population as a whole, about 1-2% of people over the age of 65 have PD, and it’s usually a condition that is most severe in patients in their 70’s and 80’s. However, about 10% of patients buck this trend and experience their first symptoms before the age of 40; these patients are known as Young-Onset PD or YOPD for short. The R&D team here at PatientsLikeMe recently carried out a research study examining an aspect of PD that has only recently gained much attention, “non-motor symptoms.” When a clinician diagnoses PD, they are usually looking for a triad of cardinal features, specifically tremor, slowness, and stiffness. However, in the past 5-10 years it has been increasingly clear that patients with PD also experience a number of non-motor symptoms, ranging from dizziness to constipation, from a loss of sense of smell to hallucinations, and from apathy to urinary problems. Several of our members had mentioned in forum postings that they were finding non-motor symptoms, such as cognitive confusion and fatigue, to be a particular burden, so we decided to …

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PatientsLikeMe Geneticist, Catherine Brownstein, Ph.D. Wins Prestigious Research Award

PatientsLikeMe is proud to announce that team geneticist Catherine Brownstein, Ph.D. will receive the 2008 Young Investigator Award from the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research (ASBMR). The award, given for Dr. Brownstein’s post-graduate creation and study of the Klotho/HYP double knockout mouse, which further elucidates the genes responsible for bone density and phosphate metabolism, will be conferred this September at the ASBMR Annual Meeting in Montréal, Canada. “I’m honored and excited to receive such a prestigious award,” says Dr. Brownstein. “The ASBMR is a fantastic organization with many brilliant experimental and clinical scientists. I look forward to the meeting in September.” Dr. Brownstein recently joined the PatientsLikeMe Research & Development team to ready its platform for the incorporation of genetic and biomarker information. PatientsLikeMe’s unique platform gives patients with life-changing illnesses sophisticated personalized outcome tools that previously were only available to clinical research centers like Yale where Dr. Brownstein completed her award winning work. The open data model of PatientsLikeMe and the thousands of active patients provide a unique new opportunity to do collaborative disease discovery and help improve patients’ lives. Dr. Brownstein will be responsible for defining and building the data structures that allow patients, for the …

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PatientsLikeMe Facebook Page

Are you on Facebook? We are! Simply search for “PatientsLikeMe” to find our new company page. Once there, click “Become A Fan,” and a “My Pages” link will be added to your profile. Remember, Facebook is an open platform that anyone can view and isn’t part of PatientsLikeMe. Therefore, any information you share about you is open to the 100 million Facebook members. Thanks for spreading the word about us to your Facebook friends. Currently, our Facebook page features photos from the AIDS Walk Boston, which drew over 20,000 participants and raised $1.2 million. We were proud to be a sponsor of the Wellness Festival that accompanied the successful June 1st event. Where can you see us next? We’re a sponsor of the National Parkinson’s Foundation’s 6th Annual Young-Onset Parkinson’s Network Conference, August 7th-9th in Atlanta, Georgia. Staffers Paul Wicks, a speaker at the conference, and Maureen Oakes will be present.

PatientsLikeMe at the Toronto ALS/MND Symposium

This year PatientsLikeMe was the major sponsor of the 18th International ALS/MND Symposium held in Toronto, Canada. Research scientist Paul Wicks, marketing officer Lori Scanlon, and community liaison Emma Willey were all in attendance to tell people about the site. We first started telling the ALS/MND community about us at the Yokohama conference in 2006, with Paul walking doctors and researchers through the site on a laptop. This year we decided to invest more in setting up an eye-catching booth which had people coming up to us to admire our space-age gadgets as much as to see the site! Over the course of 4 days we spoke to hundreds of conference delegates. Many doctors had said that they had been invited to join the site by their patients and were curious to find out more. We were able to use our new Google Mapping feature to show them where their local patients were, which had people queuing to see who they knew that was registered on the site! Several researchers were also interested in forming collaborations and we hope to be able to get our users involved in more research over the coming year.The most common questions people had for …

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Excessive Yawning or Constant Yawning in ALS/MND

The first thing we experience about yawning is an urge to do so, one that can be so hard to suppress that we end up gulping down an extra serving of air when we’re trying to appear interested, or polite, or awake. But what if you yawned even if you weren’t tired, or bored? What if you got attacks of yawning six, seven, eight times in a row that you couldn’t stop? This can be a problem for some patients with ALS, and it’s made worse by the fact that due to weak jaw muscles they could dislocate their jaw.   That’s why I was particularly interested when a news report on PatientsLikeMe listed “increased yawning” as a symptom of ALS. It occurred to me then that we had in front of us the perfect way to investigate excessive yawning in more detail. The first step was to set up “excessive yawning” as a primary symptom in ALS, meaning that all new members would be rating whether they felt it was mild, moderate, or severe. Coincidentally, a paper had just come out which reported two patients (not with ALS) with excessive yawning after being prescibred an SSRI antidepressant drug. We …

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PatientsLikeMe Receives Its First Scientific Award

PatientsLikeMe, the leading treatment and outcomes sharing website for people with life-changing diseases, is proud to announce its first scientific poster award. Today, at the 20th anniversary meeting of the British Neuropsychiatry Association (BNPA), Dr. Paul Wicks, resident researcher at PatientsLikeMe.com received the Association’s first prize for the best poster presentation, entitled “Telesocial medicine for neurological disorders: PatientsLikeMe.com”. “This is the first time that PatientsLikeMe.com has been formally presented at an academic conference and it’s great that the site has received the recognition it deserves,” says Dr. Wicks. “Over the two days of the conference I’ve spoken to neurologists, psychiatrists, and patients, all of whom were enthusiastic about the concept and interested in the development of the site as it branches out to include conditions as diverse as ALS/MND, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis.” The poster illustrates the power of PatientsLikeMe and how it can help patients with neurological disorders take control of their diseases and improve their understanding and knowledge of treatments.

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