Robin Williams and Parkinson's Disease
We're Grateful for Your Courage
Published Friday, August 15, 2014 1:30 pm
by Parkinson's Institute and Clinical Center

Our hearts go out to Robin Williams' loved ones and each and every person world-wide who loved him and now grieves his loss. We too were very surprised to learn that Robin had been living with Parkinson's disease and we commend his wife Susan Schneider's courage in sharing publicly about their personal connection to Parkinson's. We know that when a loved one is living with Parkinson's, the entire family lives with the disease. We understand that a Parkinson's diagnosis is life changing and since our founding 25+ years ago we have been helping people on their journey.

Although we cannot comment on whether Robin's struggles with depression and anxiety may have been early signs of Parkinson's or related directly to his disease, we're grateful to Robin and Susan for giving us an opportunity to educate and increase understanding of the non-motor features of Parkinson's disease including depression and anxiety.  

Parkinson's: More than Just a Movement Disorder™
Parkinson's is a highly personalized disease requiring highly personalized care. We never forget that we are caring for people—not just bodies affected by a disease. While we endeavor to improve quality of life today, our laboratory and clinical researchers are also working tirelessly on behalf of people living with Parkinson’s and their families to better understand this disease and to discover and develop new and safe therapies for tomorrow.

At the Parkinson’s Institute, compassionate care and cutting-edge research work hand in hand. During the last 50 years clinicians have focused for the most part on the motor features of Parkinson's disease. In fact, many doctors still think of Parkinson's as solely a movement disorder but we continue our efforts to change this. Motor or movement-related features of Parkinson's can include: tremor, stiffness (rigidity), slowness of movement (bradykinesia), imbalance (postural instability), a decreased range of or "frozen" facial expression (hypomimia), and challenges with dexterity and coordination.

We know that Parkinson's is truly a whole-body disease and the non-motor features can be the most disabling and debilitating, particularly over time. Non-motor features of Parkinson's disease significantly impact quality of life for most if not all people living with Parkinson's and their loved ones. Non-motor features can include: depression and anxiety, as well as cognitive impairment, fatigue, sleep disturbances, autonomic nervous system dysfunction such as constipation (and other gastrointestinal abnormalities) and loss of blood pressure when moving to a standing position from sitting or lying down (orthostatic hypotension).

Robin and his family were not alone in their journey—nor are you. Do you think that you may have Parkinson's disease? Perhaps you or a loved one is newly diagnosed or have been living with Parkinson's for many years? We strongly encourage people living with Parkinson's and their loved ones to partner with a Movement Disorder Specialist on their care. It is the very best way to ensure the most effective management of both the motor and non-motor features of Parkinson's disease.

What is a Movement Disorder Specialist?  Movement Disorder Specialists are neurologists, but not all neurologists are Movement Disorder Specialists. Movement Disorder Specialists have the special skills and additional training necessary to provide the highest caliber of care for people living with Parkinson's.

Stay connected with your Parkinson’s Institute:

RSVP today for our upcoming Parkinson’s: More than Just a Movement Disorder™ Educational Program presented by J. William Langston, MD, Parkinson’s Institute Founder, Chief Scientific Officer, and Movement Disorder Specialist.

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