Parkinson's

Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell Says He Has Parkinson's

Jun 18, 2018
Matt Rourke / AP

Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell said Monday that he was diagnosed 3½ years ago with Parkinson's disease, but said he believes that treatment has stopped the progression of the disease and he has maintained his quality of life.

The 74-year-old Rendell made the announcement at Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia with officials and doctors from the University of Pennsylvania as part of a public service message to urge people who suspect they have symptoms to get diagnosed and get treatment early.

Christopher Lopes

A new Pittsburgh stage production is rooted in the exploration of Parkinson's disease. In the Company of Ghosts looks at how challenges like disease affect the way people view each other and themselves.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 FM WESA

This month, Pittsburgh-based Sharp Edge Labs partnered with a Japanese pharmaceutical firm to expand research that could cure a small percentage of people suffering from Parkinson’s disease.

Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma CO., Ltd. is pairing with Sharp Edge in its research looking at protein trafficking, which is the movement of proteins within a cell to the receptor for which they were created.

Emily Stock / 90.5 WESA

For individuals with Parkinson’s disease, postural instability is a daily challenge.  Courtney Williamson knows this reality well.  Her mother was diagnosed with Parkinson’s when she was a toddler so she’s experienced firsthand the struggles facing those with alignment issues. 

“Living with someone with Parkinson’s or a movement disorder, you get to learn how to be creative in way to help them with daily activities,” explains Williamson.  Unable to find solutions or products that could remedy her mother’s balance issues, Williamson embraced her resources as a Carnegie Mellon University PhD candidate and started her own company, AbiliLife

A gene therapy to reduce production of a brain protein successfully prevented Parkinson’s disease from developing in rats, according to a study by the University of Pittsburgh.

Researchers said the findings, published Monday in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, could lead to new understanding of how genetic and environmental factors merge to cause the disease, which can cripple the nervous system affecting movement, speech and daily activities.

Noah Papas / Abilife

Developing an assistive brace for people with Parkinson’s disease was more than a humanitarian act for Courtney Williamson; it was personal. It has also served as her entrance into the medical devices industry. 

As the founder of AbiliLife and a PhD candidate at Carnegie Mellon University,  Courtney has gone through six prototypes to create a brace that she describes as a "light weight and breathable" vest, which aims to be as easy as putting on a T-shirt.

Courtney explained her motivation and inspiration for the making the Calibrace, assistive brace: 

"My mother has had Parkinson's for about 25 years. I noticed she had a lot of trouble with her day-to-day tasks, primarily with her posture and with her balance. I looked constantly for things to help her and I couldn't find anything. This really started because I wanted to help my mom."

The brace is scheduled to launch in April of this year.