Medical Minute: Delaying Parkinson's Progression

By: Jennifer Matthews
By: Jennifer Matthews

Wayne Berkenkamp is fighting a battle with his own body. It makes even ordinary routines challenging. At sixty-three, Wayne is in the early stages of Parkinson's disease.

"Probably early 1996, I noticed I had developed a slight nervous tick in my right arm," says Wayne Berkenkamp.

Today, his condition is advanced enough that he has to sit on his hand, just to keep it from moving. It might have been worse if Wayne hadn't tried an experimental drug called rasagiline.

"There's no question that this will be a new and very effective treatment for Parkinson's disease once it's FDA approved," says Dr. Mark Lew.

Parkinson's disease causes a loss of dopamine in the brain, the chemical that helps send messages through the nervous system. Rasagiline inhibits the breakdown of dopamine. Studies show it not only improves symptoms in early Parkinson's patients, but it might also keep patients in that mild stage longer.

"This a potential class of medication that might slow the progression of the disease."

Wayne has been on the drug for several years.

"I sit on my right arm not so much to hide the tremor, but because it annoys me to be flopping around continually."

Wayne feels lucky to have received the drug. Now, he has more than his legs to keep his tremors under control.

For more information, contact:

The Division Of Movement Disorders
University Of Southern California

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