tremors

The Ups and Downs of Parkinson’s Disease

We are all too aware that Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a progressive illness, with tremors, difficulty walking and other symptoms usually getting worse over time.  Here at PatientsLikeMe, and in the clinic, that progression is measured with the Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (PDRS). Although you can never really simplify a whole disease down to a few numbers, having that numerical description helps your health care team track your disease and how you are doing over the long haul. But if you or a loved one has PD, you know that a decline over time is only part of the story. You probably have good days and bad days, depending on all kinds of factors. Understanding those ups and downs is also big part of living with PD. It may also be a big part of treating it. In collaboration with PatientsLikeMe’s Paul Wicks and MIT’s Max Little and Alex Pentland, I have been studying those ups and downs. In our freely available paper recently published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, we explored mathematically the dynamics of the PDRS. (If you love math, this is the paper for you!) One of the most important things we found is that …

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Interview with Jim Atwell, Author of “Wobbling Home: A Spiritual Walk with Parkinson’s”

Continuing our coverage of Parkinson’s Awareness Month, we’d like to introduce you to Jim Atwell, a PatientsLikeMe member who has been living with Parkinson’s disease (PD) since 2007. A retired college professor, late-in-life farmer and weekly columnist for his rural newspaper, Jim recently published his second book, Wobbling Home:  A Spiritual Walk with Parkinson’s.  This meditation on illness and faith looks at Parkinson’s through the lens of Quakerism.  Why does this Quaker recorded minister view the disease as a gift?  What does he wish the public knew about Parkinson’s?  Find out that and more in our interview below. 1.  Tell us about your latest book, Wobbling Home: A Spiritual Walk with Parkinson’s. Wobbling Home follows on this man of 73’s two definitions: I’m dealing with Parkinson’s Plus and for forty years I’ve been a Quaker (The Religious Society of Friends). My Quaker belief is that my life itself is a gift: precious, freely given, unearned. And further, that everything in my life is a further gift: health, abilities, family, valued friends.  I’ve earned none of these. They’re gifts. And after my initial diagnosis, I came to view Parkinson’s as a gift as well. It’s not one I would have chosen, but …

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Observing Parkinson’s Awareness Month

Since 2010, April has been designated as Parkinson’s Awareness Month by the US Senate.  The goal is to shine a spotlight on the national impact of Parkinson’s disease (PD), which affects more than one million Americans.  A progressive disorder of the nervous system, PD is often marked by muscle tremors, muscle rigidity, decreased mobility, stooped posture, slow voluntary movements and a mask-like facial expression. Parkinson’s activists been coming together for the last 17 years for the Parkinson’s Unity Walk, held annually in New York City’s Central Park at the end of April.  (The 2012 event takes place on Saturday April 28th.)  Now, with Parkinson’s Awareness Month surrounding it, there is a month-long effort to raise awareness and research funds.  One of the driving reasons is that PD complications are the 14th leading cause of death in the US. PD was one of the flagship conditions at PatientsLikeMe, and today we have more than 6,100 patients who report the disease.  What are they doing to cope?  Some of the most commonly reported treatments include prescription drugs such as Carbidopa-Levodopa (Sinemet), Ropinirole (Requip), and Rasagiline (Azilect); procedures such as Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) and acupuncture; and supplements such as CoEnzyme Q10.  Click …

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Spotlighted Blogger: Parkinson’s Patient Steve Ploussard of “Attitude & Fitness Wins”

Last week we kicked off a new blog series featuring patient bloggers, and today, we’re pleased to present our second installment.  Please meet Steve Ploussard, a longtime PatientsLikeMe member who writes a blog about living with Parkinson’s disease (PD) called “Attitude & Fitness Wins.”  Steve decided that blogging was the perfect way to “come out” about his Parkinson’s diagnosis and become more at ease with it. Check out our interview with Steve below to learn how he developed his “fighting spirit,” what he’s doing to raise PD awareness and who inspires him the most. 1.  What’s it been like “going public” about Parkinson’s on your blog? Going public (“My Coming-Out Party”) on my blog has been a very emotional experience for me.  When I clicked “Publish” after writing the post, I felt as if the weight of the world was off my shoulders.  I became relaxed when talking about having PD with my family and friends just knowing they had read my blog and finally knew I had the disease.  I believe one of the reasons my tremors have become less frequent and not as pronounced is that I’m more comfortable with whom I am, a 55- year-old man with …

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