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Local family donates to Parkinson's research

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The Curtis family of Decatur, Ga. has made a generous donation to Emory University for Parkinson's disease research. The gift will be used to fund a three- year study of freezing of gait (FOG), a phenomenon that afflicts a majority of Parkinson's patients.

Tom Curtis suffers from Parkinson's disease and for several years has been a patient of Stewart Factor, DO, Vance Lanier Chair of Neurology and director of the Jean and Paul Amos Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Research Program within Emory School of Medicine.

"This gift will go a long way in helping us develop a clear clinical and biological classification of subtypes of freezing of gait in Parkinson's disease patients," says Dr. Factor. "Our ultimate aim is to develop a rational approach to the treatment of freezing of gait which includes potential development of new targets for deep brain stimulation in addressing this problem."

Freezing of gait is among the most disabling motor features of Parkinson's disease. It is described as brief episodes of absence, or marked reduction, of forward progression of the feet despite intention to walk. Patients describe feeling as though their feet are glued to the floor. It is a leading cause of falls and results in worsening of quality of life. Current therapies have shown limited and unpredictable results. 

"It was very important to us to fund research that will have an impact on those afflicted with Parkinson's disease, and where we could be involved in the work from start to finish," explain Dana and Tom Curtis. "We have the utmost confidence in Dr. Factor and his team, so we are very pleased to be able to help fund this critically important study."

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