Friday, June 17, 2016

The News Blackout Continues...

"Brain Storm - the Race to Unlock the Mysteries of Parkinson's Disease," by Jon Palfreman   Scientific American   273 pages    $26

I had specific reasons for picking up this book when I saw it in the non-fiction section of the library.  I know two men who have it and my mother died as a result of it in June, 1993.  She had been diagnosed with it at age 81 and was 87 when the disease took it's final toll. 

Too late for her, but perhaps the book contained some gleaning that the two males weren't aware of or a treatment that they hadn't tried.

Palfreman has Parkinson's himself so the reader gets an insight into it that they might not if it were written by a scientist without that personal involvement.

He traces the history of the disease - once called "the shaking palsy" - various treatments, such as administration of the drug L-dopa (my mother was given that) and its efficacy versus a very tricky brain surgery to quell said trembling. 

Exercise is well proven to aid in walking and amazingly, a person who has difficulty walking can hop on a bicycle and pedal away!  Clearly, one never does forget how to ride a bike!   Riding  as the rear pedal-er on a tandem bike makes that rider really put effort into it, more than riding solo.  Tai chi is recommended, too, to improve balance.

Today's micro-everything has fostered the development of sensory bracelets that measure difficulty in various physical activities.  They are so specialized that a weaker limb can be compared to and contrasted with the stronger one.  Because the information is instantly sent to the doctor, this means fewer visits to the doctor for office testing and a better means of diagnosis, pinpointing troubled areas.

All in all, it's a fascinating read and certainly explains Parkinson's.  Those that have it refer to themselves as "parkies" at their support group meetings.  I like the idea that there are support groups.  It's often hard to explain something to another person who doesn't have what you have/had.  I see a certain comradery at Thurs. Writers with other writers who have broken a hip.   Am pleased to report we're all doing fine with just some minor glitches from time to time. 


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