Dave Iverson has Parkinson’s, and so does his brother. His father had Parkinson’s too. Iverson’s new Frontline program, “My father, my brother and me,” aired this week on PBS, and can be viewed online. Dave’s personal story makes the science engaging and easy to understand.
Segment 5 of the program, “Living with Parkinson’s,” is especially interesting because the information on exercise and brain function could apply to many neurodegenerative diseases.
It seems to me that Dave’s work is a good example of how patients and scientists can learn from each other. It’s important for scientists to understand the patient’s view. But it’s equally important for patients to look beyond the headlines to understand the complexity and challenges scientists are dealing with.
My views on Alzheimer’s and dementia research have changed during the three years I’ve been talking with researchers and patients. During an online chat session hosted by The Washington Post, I asked Dave if his understanding of Parkinson's has also evolved as he conducted his in-depth investigation. I wondered how that changed his expectations for prevention and treatment in his lifetime.
“It's a great question ... it has become more nuanced,” Dave said, “and while I do think we'll get to a cure someday, I think I view this now as a more complicated battle ... and that it's not so much about winning and losing as it is about fighting. Through fighting, we find our way to hope, and that with hope, we can stay in the game. In a way, I feel like our job is the hope part, and if we do that, the scientists will get us there.”