William Brown with his wife
In 2002, William Brown was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, though he had started experiencing symptoms two year prior. Referred by a local physician, Brown made an appointment with Dr. Stephen Reich, professor of neurology and co-director of the Maryland Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Center. Under Dr. Reich’s direction, Brown participated in a clinical trial for an experimental drug designed to slow the progression of the disease. Although the drug ultimately proved to be no better than the placebo, Brown appreciated the care he received. It was that personal attention and care that inspired him and his wife to give back to the School of Medicine. “We wanted to advance education and knowledge and give to organizations we believe in,” Brown said. He and his wife chose to establish an endowed professorship for Parkinson’s disease in the Department of Neurology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Brown shares his experience below.
My name is William Brown. I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in September 2002. My first symptoms arose ten years ago, in 2000. I had slight tremors, my handwriting was very small, and I developed poor penmanship. There was also a slowing down in my reaction time. My golf game deteriorated — my score was higher, and my handicap had gone up.
I was referred to the University of Maryland Medical Center by a local neurologist in D.C. He referred me to Dr. Stephen Reich. In 2002, Dr. Reich evaluated my condition and confirmed that I had Parkinson’s disease.
I was immediately impressed by Dr. Reich’s knowledge and patience with the questions I asked. He suggested that I come back in six months. In the interim, there was a precept study that Dr. Reich was a part of, which had 800 patients nationwide. He asked if I wanted to participate and I agreed. I wound up participating in a study for an experimental drug.
I saw Dr. Reich every six months throughout the time of the study, which was testing a medication designed to slow the progression of the disease. The medication was not successful, but even so, Dr. Reich was always accessible to me and gave meaningful responses to my numerous questions.
Dr. Reich then suggested that I take Sinemet for my symptoms. That really helped me; it was a good medication and I reacted very positively to it. It allowed me to live a normal life.
I now exercise diligently, participating in a strenuous exercise program at the gym three times a week that includes weight lifting and cardiovascular exercise. This has kept my lifestyle from deteriorating. My golf handicap had increased significantly. Now, it has improved measurably — I shot two holes-in-one in the last two years, a big change from before. I’m now able to play reasonably good golf and I spend six months out of the year in South Carolina.
I still see Dr. Reich every six months, and we have a good relationship. He’s a very patient-oriented doctor. He is very concerned about my condition, very considerate and attentive to my questions.