Back to the Future actor Michael J. Fox has recently opened up about dealing with a spinal problem while managing his Parkinson’s disease in an interview with The New York Times.
The 57-year-old actor revealed he underwent an operation for his spinal issues which caused him to lose feeling in his legs and have difficulty moving.
Fox has been previously very open about his diagnosis and struggle with Parkinson’s disease, a neurological disorder which impairs the body’s mobility. He was initially diagnosed with the illness in 1991 and has suffered from tremors and physical jerks because of it.
The actor has had problems with his spine for quite a while but the final straw that led him to finally get surgery to address it was his constant falling due to the diminished mobility of his legs. He recalls one incident when he fell and broke his arm one morning before breakfast.
The surgery was a success but left Fox in a wheelchair for half a year crushing his budding confidence to go back to acting. Fortunately, he’s back on his feet again after undergoing intense physical therapy.
A Challenging Learning Experience
Fox credits the fall and its consequences for giving him a brand new perspective on his health. Believing that unexpected things don’t happen for no reason, he treats his experiences as learning opportunities.
Still, he admits that the issues he’s been through the past year brought him to a dark place. It even made him question his previous optimism about curing his disease. Although he got his prognosis early on, he has just recently been faced with the serious negatives of his illness after having to need 24 hours of patient care after his spinal surgery.
Parkinson’s disease is often diagnosed in adults over the age of 60 but can also be developed by people in the 21 to 50 age range in early-onset cases like Fox’s who was diagnosed with it at age 30.
Still Hoping for a Cure
Fox still believes that a cure will finally be discovered for Parkinson’s disease. In fact, he’s long been active in supporting medical research for it through the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research which he established in 2000.
There’s currently no cure for Parkinson’s but new treatments and surgical advances are being developed by scientists and doctors to help patients manage their illness and slow down the degenerative nature of it.
Deborah W. Brooks, Fox’s co-founder, has a similar positive outlook. She says they are currently focussed on therapeutic programs which they believe have the potential to change the biological effects of the disease and eventually prevent it.
Although scientists are still unsure about how to prevent the disease, there are studies which show that regular exercise and drinking caffeinated drinks may reduce a person’s risk of developing it.