In 2006, Ray Figlewski was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. The dancing that he had loved so much up to that point had begun to elude him – “losing my coordination” he says – and he knew something was up. What was up was Parkinson’s disease.
It was a rude awakening for someone who had been active, a dancer, and an athlete, but it was not an ending – it was simply a change – albeit, a big one. Eleven years later, Ray is still fighting Parkinson’s – and recommends that others with the disease fight, as well.
Ray’s athletic past – he was an athlete at Boston College, is a runner, and is a co-founder of the Branford Road Race – helps him to realize the importance of exercise overall, and especially in the fight against Parkinson’s: “Exercise has worked consistently for me in my fight against Parkinson’s – getting 45 to 50 minutes of aerobic exercise, a minimum of four days a week.”
Ray has undergone Deep Brain Stimulation surgery, which he talks about in this YouTube video (click here). He takes an active role in fighting the disease, every day, and says that those who have recently been diagnosed need to know a few tips that can potentially make a huge impact in their fight:
“Number one, choose a good movement disorder specialist – not all neurologists are movement disorder specialists. Number two, get 45 to 50 minutes of aerobic exercise each day, minimum of 4 days per week. Number three, make an active decision to exercise and work both sides of your body. And number four, be aware of the growing body of evidence about the gut/brain connection, and how it relates to Parkinson’s.”
One thing that Ray also sees is a coming tidal wave of folks with Parkinson’s, as boomers age out. Ray’s hope is that some of the research in the pipeline – Prothena’s PASADENA study is very high on his list (This Phase 2 study will evaluate the impact of targeting alpha-synuclein on the slowing of progression of Parkinson's disease in patients; please, if you have been recently diagnosed and are not on levodopa/carbidopa, contact Dr. David Russell, at email@example.com.) – will lead to significant improvements, if not the cure.
We all share Ray’s firm desire for that to happen.
To learn more about one of Ray’s favorite passions, the Branford Road Race, go to Branfordroadrace.net