Steve had several PD precursor symptoms for years. Some motor symptoms appeared early but did not interfere with lifestyle. Postural Instability appeared about a year prior to his diagnosis. The appearance was subtle. He would climb a ladder to perform some honeydo chore and come back down saying that he felt uncomfortable, unsteady, not right about being on a ladder. And this was inside the house. He felt that the sensation was real - as his wife I had some doubts. He was right; I wish he'd been wrong. He was exhibiting one of the Big 4 Parkinson's symptoms.
What is Postural Instability? To my eyes it is the failure to be able to identify the vertical but really it is much more. It occurs when reflexes are unable to adjust or compensate for sway, vertical, horizontal and diagonal and environmental changes. Gait Disturbances such as freezing or the loss of the natural rhythms which initiate and maintain gait, the rhythm aids in turning and in stride length are interrupted or short circuited.
We recently received an email asking for information about a procedure known as ExAblate®. The writer wanted to know if there was hope for Parkinson's patients with Postural Instability after she had seen the Diane Sawyer segment on ABC World News in which a ET patient of Dr William Jeff Elias discussed her Essential Tremor life before and after this unique targeted laser procedure. Although there may be a genetic link between some cases of ET and some cases of PD, the targeting will be different.
ExAblate® is a procedure done using Magnetic Resonance guided Focused Ultrasound *MRgFUS) technology developed by a Swiss company, InSightec. Although there is a study underway for Parkinson's patients, it will only take place at the Center of Ultrasound Functional Neurosurgery in Solothurn, Switzerland. The studies being conducted by Dr William Jeff Elias in the US are directed to Essential Tremor as the specific brain targets have been identified.
The Parkinson's study by Insightec is geared towards long-term chronic, therapy-resistant movement disorders. Perhaps there will be some surprise results as Postural Instability (PI) or Postural Instability and Gait Disturbances (PIGD) are inadvertently addressed as well. We can only hope.