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Neurologist develops Parkinson's Disease

In a continuation of recognizing Parkinson’s disease Awareness this week, we will be featuring the story of one medical professional with Parkinson’s disease. On Monday we overviewed the impacts the condition can have on people’s lives, and in doing so discovered a particularly remarkable story of a neurologist developing Parkinson’s disease, while treating patients for the same condition.

The story is that of David Blecker, a British neurologist with Parkinson’s disease. Blecker first noticed symptoms in his mid-forties, manifesting as a gait disturbance on his long distance runs. He hid this symptom, knowing it was a dystonia in his leg, but telling friends and colleagues it was a simple hip problem. Within a few years, Blecker began to experience tremors in his hand and leg.

The most significant warning sign though, came when Becker was demonstrating quick alternating movements to his patients and noticed that his dominant hand was lagging significantly slower than his non-dominant hand -- a symptom known as bradykinesia. He was also struggling to even walk the length of the golf course at which he used to play lengthy games.

This is when he realized that some of his patients being treated for Parkinson’s were actually performing better than him, and decided to reach out to one of his colleagues for a proper diagnosis and begin treatment.

“I could feel Parkinson’s disease creeping up on me, so when I finally summoned up the courage to have a colleague assess me and make the diagnosis, it was of no surprise; in fact, it was almost a relief,” Blecker said, in his article in the British Medical Journal.

Blecker began treatment on an L-dopa drug, and showed considerable symptom improvement. He then revealed his condition to his colleagues, and eventually to his patients -- whom he was treating for the same disease.

“The experience has deepened and enriched my understanding of the doctor–patient relationship, and I hope it has helped me to become a better neurologist,” Blecker said.

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