(BPT) – Three years ago biking down the block would not have been possible for motivational speaker Roy Roden, one of the 1.5 million Americans who suffer from Parkinson’s disease. But recently he embarked on a journey he calls the PD Challenge — a bike ride from British Colombia to San Francisco to raise awareness of Parkinson’s disease. His message to others with Parkinson’s is powerfully simple – stay active, be your own advocate, keep a positive attitude, and don’t give up hope.
As a former personal trainer, Roden says staying active is critical and credits exercise with making him stronger both mentally and physically. The benefits of physical activity are well established in Parkinson’s disease, and it’s no coincidence that Roden chose a cycling trek for the PD Challenge.
“There was a time when I couldn’t care for myself, let alone engage in the activities I love, and I’m determined to do something bigger than myself,” Roden said.
Roden was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2009. His symptoms worsened over time until he couldn’t brush his teeth or feed himself, let alone live his once active life filled with exercise, travel and the outdoors. He was taking 10 medications daily with waning effectiveness and debilitating side effects that even made it difficult for him to concentrate on a game of Monopoly with his children. But today, life is an inspiring ride for 57-year-old Roy.
To manage his Parkinson’s disease, Roden decided to pursue Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) therapy, a treatment option that when used with medications may improve quality of life and motor function more than medications alone, and may allow medication reduction. The therapy uses a surgically implanted medical device, similar to a cardiac pacemaker, to deliver electrical stimulation to precisely targeted areas of the brain to reduce some of the most disabling motor symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease, including shaking, stiffness and movement difficulties.
“I wouldn’t be able to do this without DBS, as it gave me my life back. Along the ride people ask about my connection to Parkinson’s and are surprised when I tell them I have it.”
After receiving DBS Therapy, Roden said that his quality of life and symptoms, such as shaking hands and difficulty walking, have noticeably improved. As a result, Roden was inspired to accomplish something extraordinary and offer hope to other Parkinson’s patients. Thus, the PD Challenge was born.
“In the absence of a cure, my goal is to educate people with Parkinson’s about the opportunities they have to live an active life with this debilitating disease,” said Roy.
“DBS therapy is an important treatment option for Parkinson’s disease that has stood the test of time as an FDA approved therapy. It consistently allows those suffering to experience lasting improvements that make their quality of life meaningfully better,” said Jonathan Jagid, M.D., Associate Professor of Clinical Neurological Surgery, Neurology, Orthopaedics & Rehabilitation at the University of Miami Health System, and also Roy’s neurosurgeon. “Roy has had great results and his efforts to give back are an inspiring example to the Parkinson’s community nationwide.”
Results with the therapy vary, and not every individual will receive the same benefits or experience the same complications. Patients should discuss potential risks and benefits of DBS with their physician. Medtronic DBS Therapy is the only FDA-approved DBS therapy in the United States for Parkinson’s disease, as well as essential tremor and dystonia (through a Humanitarian Device Exemption).
More information about Medtronic DBS Therapy can be found at www.medtronicdbs.com.