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
If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Andrew Mcintosh at email@example.com