The value of neuroimaging for those with Parkinson’s

On Tuesday, May 8, 2018, Dr. Antonio Strafella, a Senior Scientist and neurologist at the Morton and Gloria Shulman Movement Disorders Clinic and the Edmond J. Safra Program in Parkinson’s Disease, gave a lecture as part of the ongoing UHN Movement Disorders Speakers Series. Hosted at the BMO Education & Conference Centre at Toronto Western Hospital, the event was attended by 70 patients, families, caregivers, donors and UHN staff. Dr. Anthony Lang, world-renowned neurologist, director of the Clinic and holder of the Lily Safra Chair in Movement Disorders, introduced this Speaker Series session.

Dr. Strafella spoke about the important role of neuroimaging technology as it relates to research in Parkinson’s disease (PD) and other related neurodegenerative disorders. The session also featured Eleanor Johnston, author of Shaking Parkinson’s and a patient of Dr. Strafella, who read a snippet of her new novel, relaying her experiences living with PD.

In his talk, Dr. Strafella discussed how neuroimaging studies provide valuable insights into the complex mechanisms underlying PD. Studying images of the brain provides much needed insight in how the brain functions and behaves normally, and abnormally, when various diseases like PD or other movement disorders are present. He noted the importance of applying these innovative techniques in investigating the pathophysiology of motor, cognitive and behavioural symptoms of PD and atypical parkinsonisms.

Eleanor gave a personal account of her diagnosis and its impact on her life, leading up to her decision to write her novel. A retired schoolteacher, grandmother of six and author of several other books, Eleanor was referred to Dr. Strafella when she learned she was diagnosed with PD. With Dr. Strafella’s encouragement, she wrote a fictional story of a middle-aged woman who is diagnosed with PD, and faces many challenges that come with living with a condition in which there is no cure. Eleanor believes her novel will resonate with anyone who has a personal connection to this disease. She emphasized that there is hope; the research being done by neurologists like Dr. Strafella are helping to ensure that there is life after Parkinson’s, and that patients are not alone.

The next Movement Disorder Speaker Series is scheduled for November 2018, please contact us to learn more.

This session of the Movement Disorders Speaker Series was made possible through the generosity of Fraser Berill.