Monday, July 16, 2007


I think most of you would know who Michael J Fox is, he starred in Family ties, Spin city and back to the future series, casualty of wars...etc. To many, he was like the brother you never had or a best friend. What most people did not know (before he officially retired from show biz), he suffered from Parkinson's disease. For 7 years he kept the secret and continue to work normally speaks volume of his professionalism.
Michael J. Fox (born Michael Andrew Fox on June 9, 1961) is an award-winning, Canadian-born film and television actor. His best known roles include Marty McFly from the Back to the Future trilogy (1985-1990); Alex P. Keaton from Family Ties (1982-1989), for which he won three Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe Award; and Mike Flaherty from Spin City (1996-2000), for which he won an Emmy, three Golden Globes, and two Screen Actors Guild Awards.

Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1991, and disclosed his condition to the public in 1998. As the symptoms of his disease worsened, he retired from full-time acting in 2000.

Fox established The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research to develop a cure for Parkinson's disease within this decade.

Parkinson's disease is a chronic neurological disorder which can be characterized by a triad of symptoms: rigidity (specifically "leadpipe" and "cogwheeling" rigidity), resting tremor, and bradykinesia (slow movement). At present, there is no cure, but medications provide some relief from the symptoms. Fox manages his symptoms using Sinemet,[13] a commercial form of Levodopa (L-dopa). L-dopa treatment decreases in effectiveness as it is used over a long period of time, so Fox, like many PD sufferers, extends the life of its effectiveness by using it as little as possible.

In his memoir, Lucky Man, Fox wrote that he did not take his medication prior to his testimony before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee in 1998. "I had made a deliberate choice to appear before the subcommittee without medication. It seemed to me that this occasion demanded that my testimony about the effects of the disease, and the urgency we as a community were feeling, be seen as well as heard. For people who had never observed me in this kind of shape, the transformation must have been startling."[14]

After years of L-dopa treatment, new symptoms may develop called dyskinesia, which are different than that of PD. In an April 2002 NPR interview,[13] Fox explained what he does when he becomes symptomatic during an interview:

“ Well, actually, I've been erring on the side of caution--I think 'erring' is actually the right word--in that I've been medicating perhaps too much, in the sense times the symptoms that people see in some of these interviews that have been on are actually dyskinesia, which is a reaction to the medication. Because if I were purely symptomatic with Parkinson's symptoms, a lot of times speaking is difficult. There's a kind of a cluttering of speech and it's very difficult to sit still, to sit in one place. You know, the symptoms are different, so I'd rather kind of suffer the symptoms of dyskinesia. . .this kind of weaving and this kind of continuous thing is much preferable, actually, than pure Parkinson's symptoms. So that's what I generally do...

.I haven't had any, you know, problems with pure Parkinson's symptoms in any of these interviews, because I'll tend to just make sure that I have enough Sinemet in my system and, in some cases, too much. But to me, it's preferable. It's not representative of what I'm like in my everyday life. I get a lot of people with Parkinson's coming up to me saying, 'You take too much medication.' I say, 'Well, you sit across from Larry King and see if you want to tempt it.'

Parkinson's disease belongs to a group of conditions called movement disorders. It is characterized by muscle rigidity, tremor, a slowing of physical movement (bradykinesia) and, in extreme cases, a loss of physical movement (akinesia). The primary symptoms are the results of decreased stimulation of the motor cortex by the basal ganglia, normally caused by the insufficient formation and action of dopamine, which is produced in the dopaminergic neurons of the brain. Secondary symptoms may include high level cognitive dysfunction and subtle language problems. PD is both chronic and progressive.

PD is the most common cause of parkinsonism, a group of similar symptoms. PD is also called "primary parkinsonism" or "idiopathic PD" (having no known cause). While most forms of parkinsonism are idiopathic, there are some cases where the symptoms may result from toxicity, drugs, genetic mutation, head trauma, or other medical disorders.

Other famous sufferers include Pope John Paul II, playwright Eugene O'Neill, artist Salvador DalĂ­, evangelist Billy Graham, former US Attorney General Janet Reno, and boxer Muhammad Ali. Political figures suffering from it have included Adolf Hitler, Francisco Franco, Deng Xiaoping and Mao Zedong, and former Prime Minister of Canada Pierre Trudeau. Numerous actors have also been afflicted with Parkinson's such as: Terry-Thomas, Deborah Kerr, Kenneth More, Vincent Price, Jim Backus and Michael Redgrave. Helen Beardsley (of Yours, Mine and Ours fame) also suffered from this disease toward the end of her life. Director George Roy Hill (The Sting, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) also suffered from Parkinson's disease.

The film Awakenings (starring Robin Williams and Robert De Niro and based on genuine cases reported by Oliver Sacks) deals sensitively and largely accurately with a similar disease, postencephalitic parkinsonism.

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