LOS ANGELES, CA ( Ivanhoe Newsier) -- More than one million Americans are living with Parkinson’s disease. Right now , doctors diagnose it by conducting a physical exam that’s often unreliable, but that’s about to change.
William used to be a professional welterweight fighter. Today, he’s fighting a different yet powerful opponent, Parkinson’s disease.
"I got Parkinson’s, Parkinson’s ain’t got me," William "tank" hill, a former boxer, told Ivanhoe.
Debora Bergstrom is also battling the condition that causes tremors, balance problems and speech issues. The mom of three was diagnosed four years ago by a neurologist.
"She told me to stand up, walk, she rotated my arms and hands, and she said, yes you have Parkinson’s, " Debora Bergstrom , said.
Many people wait years before getting that diagnosis. Doctors physically examine patients for the telltale symptoms to formulate their conclusion, but their observations aren’t always accurate. 40 % of Parkinson’s patients are undiagnosed and at least 10 % who are diagnosed don’t really have it. Doctor Louise Thomson says a new imaging test called DaTscan is giving doctors a glimpse inside the Parkinson’s brain. First, doctors inject patients with a tracer. Then they scan the brain for dopamine a chemical that Parkinson’s patients lack.
Thomson says the test can tell doctors if the patient has Parkinson’s or just a tremor disorder, which is treated differently
"This is a game changer. It’s going to lead to earlier diagnosis and clearer diagnosis for patients with tremor, Louise Thomson, MBChB, from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, explained.
An earlier diagnosis means patients can start treatments sooner, potentially slowing symptom development of this devastating disease. For William and Debora, every symptom-free day matters. Now , doctors are one step closer to figuring that out.
Click here for additional research on Picturing Parkinson's: Game Changer?
Click here for Ivanhoe's full-length interview with Dr. Louise Thomson
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