Muhammad Ali raised global awareness for Parkinson’s

FILE - In this Sept. 27, 2014, file photo, Muhammad Ali is shown before the Ali Humanitarian Awards ceremony in Louisville, Ky. A spokesman for boxing great Muhammad Ali says the former heavyweight champion is being treated in a hospital for a respiratory issue. Spokesman Bob Gunnell said Thursday, June 2, 2016, that Ali is being treated by doctors as a precaution. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, File)


NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – Muhammad Ali – carrying the Olympic Torch at the Atlanta Summer Games is considered by medical experts, an iconic moment for Parkinson’s Disease.

“He was diagnosed at the age of 42 and so he almost lived half his life with Parkinson’s and he lived with it very gracefully and never let it get in the way of things he wanted to do,” says Neurologist Dr. Duarte Machado at Yale School of Medicine who specializes in the neurodegenerative disorder.

He says with proper diet, exercise and medication — patients can live fulfilling and long lives. But does point out that patients are also now benefiting from the scientific progress made in recent years. Dr. Machado is the first in the state, offering Duopa therapy at Yale-New Haven Hospital Movement Disorders Clinic.

“They wear a cartridge on the side and the medication is continuously infused for 16 hours per day,” he explains.

The drug is designed to control symptoms such as tremors, slowness of movement or increased muscle tone. It’s delivered into the small intestine — through a tube and controlled by a pump.

“It can be adjusted according to the patient’s needs. Some people need more to maintain good symptom control, and other people needs less.”

And there’s more. Dr. Machado recently wrapped up a clinical trial on the drug Xeomin drug – targeting tremors specifically.

“For more than 50 percent of the people, they experienced a significant reduction such that even if it wasn’t completely suppressed, it was suppressed enough that the tremors were not bothersome anymore to the patient.”

The drug is awaiting approval by the F-D-A for use of controlling the tremors — however it is already available for other medical applications.

Patients who took part in the trial and those who’ve gotten the okay from their insurance companies can receive the medication.

For more information on clinical trials for Parkinson’s call – call the Yale-New Haven Hospital Movement Disorders Clinic at 203-785-4085.

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