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Brain Storms: The Race to Unlock the Mysteries of Parkinson's Disease
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Published:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2015
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Description

A Top 10 Science Book of Fall 2015 - Publishers Weekly
A star science journalist with Parkinson's reveals the inner workings of this perplexing disease

Seven million people worldwide suffer from Parkinson's, and doctors, researchers, and patients continue to hunt for a cure. In Brain Storms, the award-winning journalist Jon Palfreman tells their story, a story that became his own when he was diagnosed with the debilitating illness.
Palfreman chronicles how scientists have worked to crack the mystery of what was once called the shaking palsy, from the earliest clinical descriptions of tremors, gait freezing, and micrographia to the cutting edge of neuroscience, and charts the victories and setbacks of a massive international effort to best the disease. He takes us back to the late 1950s and the discovery of L-dopa. He delves into a number of other therapeutic approaches to this perplexing condition, from partial lobotomies and deep brain stimulation to neural grafting. And he shares inspiring stories of brave individuals living with Parkinson's, from a former professional ballet dancer who tricks her body to move freely again to a patient who cannot walk but astounds doctors when he is able to ride a bicycle with no trouble at all.
With the baby boom generation beginning to retire and the population steadily aging, the race is on to discover a means to stop or reverse neurodegenerative conditions like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. Brain Storms is the long-overdue, riveting, and deeply personal story of that race, and a passionate, insightful, and urgent look into the lives of those affected.

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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
09/15/2015
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780374711856
ASIN:
B00UFMDKGE
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Jon Palfreman. (2015). Brain Storms: The Race to Unlock the Mysteries of Parkinson's Disease. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Jon Palfreman. 2015. Brain Storms: The Race to Unlock the Mysteries of Parkinson's Disease. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Jon Palfreman, Brain Storms: The Race to Unlock the Mysteries of Parkinson's Disease. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Jon Palfreman. Brain Storms: The Race to Unlock the Mysteries of Parkinson's Disease. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2022. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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      • bioText: Jon Palfreman, PhD, is a professor emeritus of journalism at the University of Oregon. He is an Emmy, duPont, and Peabody Award-winning journalist, a Nieman Fellow, and the recipient of the Victor Cohn Prize for Excellence in Medical Science Reporting. In addition to producing more than forty primetime documentaries for the BBC and PBS, Palfreman is a coauthor of The Case of the Frozen Addicts and The Dream Machine. He lives in Lexington, Massachusetts.
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fullDescription

A Top 10 Science Book of Fall 2015 - Publishers Weekly
A star science journalist with Parkinson's reveals the inner workings of this perplexing disease

Seven million people worldwide suffer from Parkinson's, and doctors, researchers, and patients continue to hunt for a cure. In Brain Storms, the award-winning journalist Jon Palfreman tells their story, a story that became his own when he was diagnosed with the debilitating illness.
Palfreman chronicles how scientists have worked to crack the mystery of what was once called the shaking palsy, from the earliest clinical descriptions of tremors, gait freezing, and micrographia to the cutting edge of neuroscience, and charts the victories and setbacks of a massive international effort to best the disease. He takes us back to the late 1950s and the discovery of L-dopa. He delves into a number of other therapeutic approaches to this perplexing condition, from partial lobotomies and deep brain stimulation to neural grafting. And he shares inspiring stories of brave individuals living with Parkinson's, from a former professional ballet dancer who tricks her body to move freely again to a patient who cannot walk but astounds doctors when he is able to ride a bicycle with no trouble at all.
With the baby boom generation beginning to retire and the population steadily aging, the race is on to discover a means to stop or reverse neurodegenerative conditions like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. Brain Storms is the long-overdue, riveting, and deeply personal story of that race, and a passionate, insightful, and urgent look into the lives of those affected.

reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Oliver Sacks on The Case of the Frozen Addicts
      • content: "I could not put it down."
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        Starred review from July 6, 2015
        Award-winning journalist Palfreman’s fast-paced, captivating, and crisp narrative of patients, doctors, and researchers is part scientific investigation, part medical detective story, and part memoir, and it opens wide a window into the world of Parkinson’s. He introduces readers to James Parkinson, who in 1817 offered the first clinical description of the disease; Jean-Martin Charcot, who accurately described the signs and symptoms of what appeared to be a movement disorder; Constantin Tretiakoff, who demonstrated that the disease was caused by damage to the substantia nigra portion of the brain; and Frederick Lewy, who discovered the pathological hallmarks of Parkinson’s. Palfreman, who was diagnosed with the disease during his research, investigates drug therapies, such as the routine L-dopa therapy initiated in the 1960s and still used frequently today, and experimental drugs such as NPT088, which has yet to be approved by the FDA. There are more than seven million Parkinson’s sufferers worldwide and Palfreman shares some of their stories, including that of dancer Pam Quinn, who has learned to “trick” her symptoms and teaches her methods to other Parkinson’s patients. He reminds readers that a diagnosis of Parkinson’s is a life sentence, but Palfreman remains optimistic about what new discoveries may be able to offer Parkinson’s patients. Agent: Kneerim, Williams, & Bloom.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        June 1, 2015
        Prospects for better treatments for Parkinson's disease are the hope that lies at the end of this well-researched history and overview of the current state of research. Palfreman (Emeritus, Broadcast Journalism/Univ. of Oregon; co-author: The Case of the Frozen Addicts, 1996, etc.) brings his skill as a science writer and a deep personal commitment to an initially dark narrative. A generation ago, L-dopa was the breakthrough drug that would supply dopamine, the neurotransmitter no longer available from diseased brain cells, to neurons in movement control centers. Thus it would stop the tremors, falls, and other signs of Parkinson's-except when it didn't. L-dopa is notoriously difficult to deliver to the brain, and when it arrives, its release fluctuates, producing on-again, off-again effects. So the race was on to protect, revive, or transplant new cells to replace the dying ones. None of these approaches really worked, writes the author, probably because by the time movement symptoms appear, most of the dopamine cells are gone. In that sense, the tremors are only the tip of the iceberg. Among Parkinson's "prodromal" symptoms are constipation, loss of the sense of smell, sleep disorders, anxiety, and depression. Moreover, Parkinson's comes in many varieties, with different ages of onset and different rates of progression. Fortunately, there are promising developments on the horizon-e.g., the chance discovery that a particular phage can invade and devour the misfolded proteins in brain cells, restoring function. A small company has now developed a phage-derived protein that forms the key to opening the cells, and they are planning human trials. Other developments include new forms of L-dopa to ensure stable amounts and sustained delivery and possible exploitation of the placebo effect, which has been shown to stimulate dopamine release from other brain systems. In this illuminating book, Palfreman reminds patients that exercise and a positive attitude help, and he urges them to participate in clinical trials and take to task drug companies reluctant to initiate huge trials for what they dismiss as a non-life-threatening disease. Just ask Michael J. Fox.

        COPYRIGHT(2015) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        June 15, 2015

        The general public may think they know what Parkinson's disease is--something that mainly old people get and that causes tremors--but the reality of the condition is more complex and confounding, explains science journalist Palfreman (KEZI Distinguished Professor of Broadcast Journalism, Univ. of Oregon; The Case of the Frozen Addicts), himself a sufferer. Some forms of the disease are inherited and others are environmentally caused; there is no definitive test that can be performed on living patients, and upon autopsy, some are found not to have had Parkinson's at all; and the disease has lately been recognized as much more than a motor disorder. Palfreman describes heroic measures by scientists, not to mention their animal and human subjects, in the effort to find a cure or a way to halt symptoms--everything from experimental surgeries to using viruses to deliver treatment. Sprinkled throughout are doctor, researcher, and patient accounts and the author's own story and opinions, which create a resource that can help those affected to learn more about the disease, understand better how their medication works and was developed, and deal with symptoms. A section on a dancer who has Parkinson's is particularly helpful, offering tips on how to move more easily. The language can get quite scientific, but patients who are familiar with popular science works will have no problem. VERDICT Solid research, engagingly presented; a great resource for patients and their families.--Henrietta Verma, Library Journal

        Copyright 2015 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        August 1, 2015
        Perhaps there is no one better suited to putting a story of medical and scientific research into context than award-winning journalist Palfreman. That he brings his prodigious analytical and reportorial skills to the task of describing the latest discoveries about the baffling neurodegenerative disease named for a nineteenth-century surgeon makes Parkinson's disease the stuff of page-turning enlightenment. And that's for readers whose life is unaffected by it. For those diagnosed with the disease, the so-called Parkies, and their families and friends, it ought to prove downright riveting. After devoting a few pages to the history and discovery of Parkinson's, first observed in records dating nearly from the dawn of recorded history, Palfreman, in subsequent chapters, builds, block-by-block, a structure that any layperson can understand. His descriptions of the myriad approaches to the search for a cure range from the pharmaceutical to surgical to therapeutic and are just thorough enough. The information is clear, careful, dotted with the personal experiences of Palfreman and his fellow Parkies (including actor Michael J. Fox), and hopeful.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2015, American Library Association.)

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A Top 10 Science Book of Fall 2015 - Publishers Weekly
A star science journalist with Parkinson's reveals the inner workings of this perplexing disease

Seven million people worldwide suffer from Parkinson's, and doctors, researchers, and patients continue to hunt for a cure. In Brain Storms, the award-winning journalist Jon Palfreman tells their story, a story that became his own when he was diagnosed with the debilitating illness.
Palfreman chronicles how scientists have worked to crack the mystery of what was once called the shaking palsy, from the earliest clinical descriptions of tremors, gait freezing, and micrographia to the cutting edge of neuroscience, and charts the victories and setbacks of a massive international effort to best the disease. He takes us back to the late 1950s and the discovery of L-dopa. He delves into a number of other therapeutic approaches to this perplexing condition, from partial lobotomies and deep brain...

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      • description: Science / Life Sciences / Neuroscience