Shaken: Journey into the Mind of a Parkinson’s Patient
Most people know that Parkinson’s disease is a crippling neurodegenerative disorder. But what do Parkinson’s patients actually have to go through day after day? And what do such procedures as deep-brain stimulation (DBS)—currently the most effective surgical treatment for the disease—involve? Shaken: Journey into the Mind of a Parkinson’s Patient answers these questions. The documentary follows Paul Schroder (above), who was diagnosed with the disease when he was in his 30s and who, after growing increasingly debilitated, decided to undergo DBS. The film is now airing nationally on public television stations and is available on DVD through the Lila Films Web site.
Shaken gives viewers a glimpse into Schroder’s mind, both literally and figuratively. Writer, director and producer Deborah J. Fryer not only filmed the actual DBS surgery (not for weak stomachs) but also invites viewers into Schroder’s life, his thoughts and emotions. This seamless blend of medical science and personal accounts of a patient’s struggles make this documentary both highly educational and deeply moving.
One of Shaken’s highlights is its excellent explanation of DBS, which involves implanting electrodes into the brain and a generator underneath the collarbone to deliver electrical pulses that, through unknown mechanisms, lessen the symptoms of Parkinson’s. As they perform the complicated surgery, the participating physicians explain it step by step. [For more on DBS, see “Sparking Recovery with Brain ‘Pacemakers,’ ” by Morton Kringelbach and Tipu Aziz; Scientific American Mind, December 2008/January 2009.]
The film is an eye-opener for everyone who is not personally affected by Parkinson’s. It puts a face on a cruel disease.