On World Parkinson’s Day, 11th April 2020 we would like to raise awareness for this disease.
Lindsay Hodgson knows what it is like to live with Parkinson’s disease, having been diagnosed with the condition in December 2011. Lindsay was performing on stage with his band Claymore at the Myer Music Bowl, when he had difficulty playing his guitar. Over the following months Lindsay’s condition deteriorated; pharmaceutical medication made him feel dazed and confused, and he started to lose his confidence. Lindsay describes his journey as a harrowing experience, not just for himself, but also for those close to him.
Dr Wesley Thevathasan, a leading clinical neurologist, has been collaborating with the Bionics Institute research team for the past five years in the area of Parkinson’s disease and its treatment through Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS). Dr Thevathasan recommended that Lindsay consider this treatment, and after careful consideration, Lindsay chose to go ahead with the surgery in June 2019; the surgery was a huge success. Since the operation Lindsay has not needed to take any pharmaceutical medication, and feels like he can resume his professional music career – something he thought that he would never be able to do again.
Not every patient has such successful outcomes from their DBS treatment. Currently patients must remain awake, and errors in placement can result in unwanted side-effects. Dr Thevathasan is working with researchers at the Bionics Institute to improve the targeting of DBS treatment with the goal of providing personalised therapy that responds to the patient’s symptoms in real time.
(Image: Dr San San Xu, Lindsay Hodgson, Dr Wesley Thevathasan)