09/18/2015

Unlocking Parkinson’s Disease

16:54 minutes

In 1985, science journalist Jon Palfreman investigated a group of drug addicts who were struck with Parkinson’s-like symptoms after taking tainted heroin. Thirty years later, Palfreman was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. In his book Brain Storms, he describes having Parkinson’s as “going on vacation in another country and having to drive on the ‘wrong’ side of the road.” Palfreman describes his own journey with the disease and discusses new treatments for Parkinson’s patients. Read an excerpt here.

*This copy was updated on September 17, 2015, to reflect the following correction: An earlier version stated that Jon Palfreman investigated the group of drug addicts with Parkinson’s-like symptoms in 1982. While cases started occurring that year, the date he documented them was 1985.

Segment Guests

Jon Palfreman

Science journalist Jon Palfreman is the author of Brain Storms: The Race to Unlock the Mysteries of Parkinson’s Disease (Scientific American/Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015). He’s based in Lexington, Massachusetts.

Meet the Producer

About Alexa Lim

Alexa Lim is a producer for Science Friday. Her favorite stories involve space, sound, and strange animal discoveries.