Michael J. Fox treated Parkinson's with brain drilling procedure, reveals neurologist

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      Actor Michael J. Fox had holes drilled into his brain as part of his treatment for Parkinson's Disease, according to one of his doctors.

      Harvard Medical School neurologist Allan Ropper talked about the "highly successful" procedure during an interview with BBC’s Radio Five Live on Monday (January 12), admitting he "took a lot of heat for it, because it was not a conventional procedure."

      According to Ropper, author of the book, Reaching Down the Rabbit Hole: A Renowned Neurologist Explains the Mystery and Drama of Brain Diseasethe treatment purposely causes small strokes in the patient's brain, which can "kill" tremors.

      “We know from accidents by an ancient neurosurgeon, by which I mean 40 years ago, that small strokes in a particular part of the brain stop the tremor of Parkinson’s," Ropper explained. “It was an accidental observation. After that, the Swedes began to make holes with little instruments in those places. That’s what we did. We made a little hole in the thalamus, killed the tremor, dead."

      Fox was diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson's disease in 1992 and went public with his diagnosis in 1998.

      “Some people with Parkinson’s who start with a tremor and who are young at the onset, ironically, do extremely well in the long run," Ropper told the BBC. “One would have thought the opposite, that if you’re young when you get it, you’ll be worse off.

      In 2007, Straight contributor Rex Moore wrote an account of a similar experience he had. Also diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, Moore underwent Deep Brain Stimulation surgery, during which electrodes were put into his brain while he was awake and later attached to a stimulator implanted in his chest. ("Trust me, you do not want to ever feel the vibrations of a drill digging deep into your soul or recall the smell from your smoking skull," Moore wrote about the surgery.) 

      As Ropper noted in the BBC interview, "There are more modern techniques now which are stimulators, but as outlined in the book, Mr. Fox did not want the contraption."





      Jan 13, 2015 at 4:28pm

      sounds exciting. can't help but think(somewhat selfishly) that maybe this could bring back Linda Ronstadt's great singing ability someday.

      Be well

      Jan 14, 2015 at 12:23pm

      I'm so glad that this treatment works. I watched an uncle struggle with this for years, and I wouldn't wish it on anyone. I hope this procedure is available to everyone, not only to the wealthy.

      Dolores B.

      Jan 14, 2015 at 5:36pm

      Hope Michael has done well following his procedure. He is such an inspiration to anyone suffering with Parkinson's disease. My husband has been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease with associated dementia with Lewy bodies. We have learned to live each day as it comes and just hope for a breakthrough.

      interested party

      Jan 14, 2015 at 6:44pm

      Has Michael J fox tried thyroid pills? There was a study done many years ago in which patients with Parkinsons were tested and put on thyroid pills and more than 80 percent were relieved of symptoms...I'd be interested to see how much hormones play a role in this disease

      A. MacInnis

      Jan 15, 2015 at 10:40am

      I tried to find a clip for Shockabilly's "Tray-panning the Man" for some topical humor but people don't seem to have uploaded it. Ah well!

      Rod Mickleburgh

      Jan 15, 2015 at 3:23pm

      A cautionary note: this treatment does not work for everyone. It failed to work magic for the late Marg Meikle, better known as CBC's legendary Answer Lady. Maurice Bridge wrote an award-winning series on her experience for the Vancouver Province. It did not have a happy ending.

      T Hancock

      Jan 15, 2015 at 7:25pm

      I had DBS 2 years ago.It's amazing how much it changed my life.

      Clarifying Information

      Jan 16, 2015 at 11:51am

      Article somewhat misleading, just indicates it was revealed he had the surgery - but he actually had it many years ago.
      More info from interview w. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN Sr. Medical Correspondent in 2010: "Michael J. Fox had surgery 12 years ago [so, 1998] on the right side of his brain, which controls the left side of the body. The problem was the right side.. slowly became worse after that. And it's progressed over the years."
      Says he was at that time reluctant to try again unless or until more advances provide better guarantees.