Outdoors Enthusiast Uses Exercise to Curb Early Onset Parkinson’s Disease

<img class="alignnone size-full wp-image-35196" src="https://mdthinks.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/outdoors-enthusiast-uses-exercise-to-curb-early-onset-parkinsons-disease.jpg" alt=" Motorcyclist, Hiker and Skier Robert Berlin was 53 years old when he began to experience symptoms of the disease Parkinson's. Today, thanks to health care adapted to his lifestyle, he remains active and optimistic. "Width =" 805 "height =" 453 "/>

The mountain biker, hiker and skier Robert Berlin, M.D., was just 53 when he started experiencing Parkinson's symptoms. Today, thanks to health care adapted to his lifestyle, he remains active and optimistic.

Dr. Robert Berlin can check a nearly 50 mile bike ride in one afternoon. He can climb a mountain of 1600 feet and go down again. Every day he performs about 90 minutes of cardiovascular exercises. And he does so while dealing with the early onset of Parkinson's disease .

With the help and advice of his psychologist Mayo Clinic Rodolfo Savica, MD, Ph.D. Robert was able to take adapted doses of drugs to suppress the symptoms of the disease and maintain the greedy athleticism that is an integral part of his psyche.

"Bob is a person who, if you see walking, would not say that he is suffering from Parkinson's disease," says Dr. Savica, who has been part of Robert's care team since 2014. "Bob is a passionate athlete and loves being 100%, we want him to be as close as possible to 100%, I want him to have as much abilities and abilities as possible. "

Activity and positive outlook

For Robert, exercise not only allows him to stay physically strong, but he reinforces his emotional and mental courage to fight the disease, which is normally diagnosed around the age of 71.

"Trying to keep doing the things that make you happy is a good way to maintain a positive attitude," says Robert. "In addition to the medications, I think you have to keep moving, that's what I do, I find that there is a little peace in there, and I think that it's is a healthy thing to do. "

In fact, research studies show that exercise can actually curb the effects of Parkinson's disease.

"… Bob is a source of inspiration for many, he makes every effort in following our direction to try to fight the disease." – Rodolfo Savica, M.D., Ph.D.

"Theories show that exercise is crucial for the mental part of Parkinson's disease, and some theories suggest that with exercise, damaged neurons can establish new connections in the body. cortex, "says Dr. Savica.

Although Robert has bad days with the good guys, his commitment to an active lifestyle serves him well.

"The disease will definitely progress, but Bob's beauty is that he's really used to doing exercise, he's becoming mentally active ", adds Dr. Savica. "That's why I think Bob is a source of inspiration for a lot of people, he's doing everything by following our direction to try to fight the disease."

Depression, Denial, and Diagnosis

Resident of the seaside resort of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Robert was chief of the radiology department of the community hospital for over 20 years. The area is known for outdoor recreational activities. Robert, a mountain bike and ski enthusiast, took advantage of the topography of the region. But in the summer of 2013, he began to feel depressed.

According to the National Institutes of Health, between 40% and 50% of people with Parkinson's disease have depression. In retrospect, says Robert, depression was his first visible symptom of the disease.

"I went back to the East to see my sister and a good friend of the medical school, I remember very well what was going on:" It's going to be the last trip I'm going to make, "He says." By working in the radiology department, I was very emotionally affected when reading patient exams containing pathological findings. "

"I received treatment for all sorts of things, but the only thing they did not treat me for was Parkinson's disease, my personal denial delayed my diagnosis." – Robert Berlin

Shortly after, physical problems began to appear. He sought the help of a neurologist, who recommended Robert to consult a neuro-ophthalmologist to undergo a movement disorder test called progressive supranuclear palsy or PSP. His neurologist also suggested Robert to visit a specialist in movement disorders. This doctor turned out to be Dr. Savica, who at the time practiced at the University of Utah. Robert was advised to consult a neurosurgeon to discuss a pre-existing case of cervical stenosis. Finally, the neurologist suggested that Robert consult a psychiatrist to manage his depression.

The neuro-ophthalmologist has excluded PSP. In June 2014, Robert's neurosurgeon performed cervical fusion to help with cervical stenosis. Her psychiatrist prescribed several medications.

"I received treatment for all sorts of things, but the only thing they did not treat me for was Parkinson's disease," Robert says. "My personal denial has delayed my diagnosis."

With symptoms such as tremors and a lack of coordination, Robert says that he could no longer work. His wife, who is an internist, suggested that he go to the Mayo Clinic for a definitive diagnosis.

Drs. Rodolfo Savica and Robert Berlin.

Robert made an appointment to be seen in the Department of Neurology at Rochester Mayo Clinic Campus . He was to take an examination with J. Eric Ahlskog, M.D., Ph.D. After a thorough assessment of Robert's condition, Dr. Ahlskog was clear and direct about his diagnosis.

"It was so obvious to him," Robert says. "He literally squeezed my wrist and said:" You have Parkinson's disease. "

Robert asked Dr. Ahlskog if there were any other tests that could be done to confirm the diagnosis. He suggested that Robert take a dose of the drug Parkinson's disease, carbidopa-levodopa. If it helped to relieve his symptoms, it would mean that Robert had the disease.

"I took a pill, and an hour later, I felt really better," he says. "There was no doubt about it."

Rather than feeling the desperation of having Parkinson's disease, the diagnosis relieved Robert.

"I needed to understand what was going on in order to be able to move forward because I was deteriorating quite rapidly," he says. "In addition to carbidopa-levodopa, I needed antidepressant medications to relieve severe depression."

Teamwork, treatment and triumph

With his new diagnosis, Robert returned to Jackson Hole and made an appointment with Dr. Savica to monitor and adapt optimal medical treatment for his Parkinson's disease.

"When I met him, I knew full well that he was going to be my Parkinson's doctor for the rest of my life," Robert says. "I wanted someone empathetic, caring and to whom I was not just another number, and besides, I wanted someone to be in the frontline. Keeping Parkinson's treatment, Dr. Savica is doing superb research on all the new developments in this field. and the commitment to me as a patient has been amazing. "

"Dr. Savica is doing great research on all the new developments in the field and his approach and commitment to me as a patient have been incredible." – Robert Berlin

When Dr. Savica moved to Rochester, Minnesota, to join the Mayo Clinic, Robert said that it was an easy decision to stay with him. Dr. Savica's personalized medical treatment allowed Robert to maintain his active lifestyle.

"I was hoping for a high level of function without tremors and good movements allowing me to do the physical things that I love," Robert says.

Robert keeps in touch with Dr. Savica, making follow-up visits to Minnesota, as well as phone calls and e-mails as needed to manage his medications and symptoms. "Rodolfo has been incredibly responsive," says Robert. Even when he has an urgent problem in the middle of the night, he says, "I will get an answer before breakfast, I feel like I have an exceptional and extremely intelligent doctor." who takes care of my care. a good friend and treat me like a friend. "

Dr. Savica says that the feeling is reciprocal. As a friend, Dr. Savica will continue to support Robert clinically and personally to help him maintain the quality of life that he wants.

"It is crucial to tell any patient that I want you to do well, I want you to feel good and that I want to give everything in my medical expertise," says Dr. Savica.

With a tailor-made treatment, Robert says that he will continue to exercise for as long as possible.

"There is more to life than physical things, and there is no doubt that our physical bodies end up deteriorating," he says. "But personally, I've always found great happiness to be physical.The exercise of any intensity, of a long bike ride difficult to walk the dog with my wife, brings joy into my life."

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Tags: Dr. J. Eric Ahlskog Dr. Rodolfo Savica Neurology and Neurosurgery Neurology and Neurosurgery Parkinson's Disease

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