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.
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.