Mike’s Story: Parkinson’s disease

Imagine learning you have Parkinson’s Disease. At 26. Most Parkinson’s patients are diagnosed in their 60s. Yet in 1987, after three years of unexplained symptoms, Mike Pohl learned he had the degenerative disease. After a visit to the National Institutes of Health in Maryland, medication eased his symptoms. As is often the case, the drugs became less effective over time and Mike¹s symptoms – tremors, slowness of movement, rigidity and poor balance – gradually took over his life.

By the age of 44 – the prime of his life – Mike couldn¹t walk without stumbling, drive or dress himself, or even toss a ball with his sons. Then in 2004 neurosurgeon George Mandybur at the Neuroscience Institute in Cincinnati inserted a Deep Brain Stimulation implant – like a pacemaker for the brain. Fifteen days later, Dr. Mandybur turned it on. “Unbelievable,” says Mike, “I went from not being able to do anything to being able to do whatever I wanted after 19 years of hell.”

Mike turned 45 in July 2005. Since his remarkable success with the DBS implant, he has traveled with his family – his wife Kathy, daughter Tiffany, and sons Chris, Jake and Andy. They’ve been to Georgia, Colorado, Pennsylvania, and even Las Vegas. A father who couldn’t even toss a ball with his sons now coaches little league. Mike still breaks down when he talks about the day he got his life back. Incredible. “I’m 100 percent now,” he says.

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