U.S. Senator Isakson opens up about suffering with Parkinson’s disease

Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – In a news release, U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson says he won’t allow Parkinson’s to hold him back.

“Over 1 million Americans have Parkinson’s and I am one them.” says Senator Isakson.

According to the release, Isakson began noticing symptoms in 2012. After a couple of visits to the neurologist he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2013.

Isakson says the main symptoms he suffer from are stiffness in his left leg and a slowed, shuffling gait.

“My diagnosis has not impacted my ability to represent the state of Georgia in the U.S. Senate.” says Isakson.

The senator exercises everyday and has taken rigorous physical therapy. He’s currently taking two medications for the disease.

Georgia Representative Tom Graves said in a statement, “Sen. Isakson has served our state honorably for more than 35 years. Despite this health challenge, I have no doubt he will continue to serve our state with the same vigor and distinction he always has. I look forward to continuing to work with Sen. Isakson for years to come.”

Georgia Senator David Perdue said in a statement, “Senator Johnny Isakson is a true statesman. When he speaks, people in Washington listen. Anyone who knows Johnny, knows that his top priority is and will always be the people of Georgia. He is a long-time champion for our veterans and Georgia values in the U.S. Senate. As my senior senator, I look forward to working together every day as we fight for Georgia and our country.”

Mercer University School of Medicine Professor and Neurosurgery Chief Dr. Joe Sam Robinson tells 41NBC, the disease stems from a problem in the brain that prevents the muscles from working well, which causes Parkinson’s patients to tremble.

“It’s a big deal to be in the U.S. Senate and so there’s lots of complicated issues there,” says Dr. Robinson,  I would say if that’s the only impediment he has that’s pretty good. Many of our senators have far more substantial problems I would say.”

Robinson says Parkinson’s patients, like Isakson, can take medication to manage the condition and live a normal life. He added surgery can also help, but there is no known cure for the disease.

Isakson plans to run for re-election in 2016.

To read the entire release click here.

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