Parkinson's treatment shows promise - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Parkinson's treatment shows promise

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Advanced Parkinson's disease can leave patients completely debilitated, but now an FDA approved treatment is giving some of them hope to be able to lead normal lives again.

Jack McKeon takes nothing for granted these days -- even making a cup of coffee. It's the little things that count," McKeon said.

The 65 year old retired police commissioner and naval officer has advanced Parkinson's disease, but now that he's receiving an FDA approved treatment to manage his symptoms, it's not as obvious. "I couldn't walk. I couldn't do anything on my own," he said. "I lost my ability to be productive, and I was very depressed about that."

In May, doctors at North Shore University Hospital inserted a tube in Jack's small intestine that connects to an outside pump. The pump is attached to a cassette with two medications that are continuously delivered for up to 16 hours a day. Dr. Paul Wright says patients using the treatment -- called Duopa -- no longer have to worry about taking pills at the right time. "The pump allows dopamine to be infused in a consistent manner and be absorbed in a consistent manner, so that means the patient is on all the time and there is no wearing off," Dr. Wright said.

Jack was up and dancing with his wife Katie a half hour after the procedure. "We hadn't danced in eight years," she said. "We were spinning in the hallways. It was amazing.

McKeon says it was night and day when he took his granddaughter to a school event after getting the pump. "I had gone to that event last year and I had to be helped to a chair, be helped to my car," he said. "This year I went. I didn't need any help at all. I held her hand. We ran across the street. These are big things.

That's the way he hopes his granddaughter will remember him -- independent and able to enjoy doing things with his family. 

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