Parkinson’s Disease Stories: Being Diagnosed at 34

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by Wendy Henderson |

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When Tonya Walker first started experiencing strange symptoms—like her arms not moving when she walked and her left hand losing its dexterity—she thought she’d pulled a muscle.

Living with young-onset Parkinson’s disease

However, when the symptoms continued, Walker realized something wasn’t right. She visited her primary care doctor who initially thought she might have multiple sclerosis because she was only 34. Her doctor referred her to a neurologist for tests that revealed she actually had young-onset Parkinson’s disease.

In an interview with, the law professor from Florida admitted she was shocked. Neither she nor  her husband coped well with the news, but they tried to continue on with life as normally as possible.

Walker didn’t start treatment for Parkinson’s immediately. She wanted to start a family and knew that the medications she would have to take would not be safe during pregnancy. But pregnancy made her symptoms worse and following the birth of her son she returned to the neurologist and started treatment.

After trying various medications, Walker decided to undergo deep brain stimulation, where electrons were implanted into her brain and an impulse generator in her chest so she could vary the amount of electrical stimulation her brain received manually. Immediately following surgery, Walker noticed a difference and many of the symptoms she’d been dealing with for years suddenly stopped.

You can read Walker’s full story on 

Parkinson’s disease patient describes his experience with deep brain stimulation.

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