Parkinson’s sufferer can ride bike, not walk


A man with Parkinson’s Diseased treated in the Nijmegen academic hospital recently demonstrated that he can ride a bicycle, but not walk.

Dr. Bastiaan Bloem of Radboud University told the New York Times:

He said, ‘Just yesterday I rode my bicycle for 10 kilometers’ — six miles. He said he rides his bicycle for miles and miles every day.

I said, ‘This cannot be. This man has end-stage Parkinson’s disease. He is unable to walk.’

We helped him mount the bike, gave him a little push, and he was gone.

The 58-year-old man can only take a few steps before he falls to the ground, his hands shaking uncontrollably all the while. Dr. Bloem hypothesizes that bicycling may use a different part of the brain than walking. Another explanation could be that the pedals provide a pacing cue to the patients’ nervous system.

The Times’ article provides a video that shows the patient trying to walk, and that also shows him bicycling effortlessly.

The New England Journal of Medicine added this ‘helpful’ note:

(Editor’s note: In Video 2, the patient is not wearing a safety helmet because in the Netherlands, unlike the United States, wearing a safety helmet is neither required by law nor customary.)

Is anybody besides me reminded of this story?

(Photo by Flickr user heliosphan, some rights reserved)

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