When award-winning science journalist Jon Palfreman investigated a group of drug addicts who mysteriously ended up with Parkinson's-like symptoms after a bad batch of heroin—the story that would end up launching his career—he never imagined that more than 25 years later he would be diagnosed with the disease himself. Today there are roughly 1 million Americans living with Parkinson’s and about 60,000 new cases each year. In this interview, Jon discusses his new book, Brain Storms: The Race to Unlock the Mysteries of Parkinson's Disease, detailing the scientific history of a search for a cure, as well as his own experience with Parkinson's.
Jon offers advice for translating the uncertainties that often come with medical advice and suggests how we can try to reconcile those odds with our need for concrete answers. He explains our best chances at beating Parkinson's, including approaches that attempt to modify the disease as well as those that work to treat the symptoms.
He also offers three suggestions on how those living with Parkinson's, as well as their family and friends, can understand such a complex disease and thus offer the best support:
1) Embrace your fellow patients who share your diagnosis for they are your new tribe. Connect with the Parkinson's community because you will find inspiration there. Jon tells the stories of a British surveyor who walked the coastline of Great Britain to raise money for Parkinson's research and of a New York ballet dancer who teaches dance classes for Parkinson's patients.