Richard Rothenberg, Repairing a Father Debilitated by Parkinson's Disease.
At 37 years old, Richard Rothenberg, an investment banker, was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. Slowly his body deteriorated to the disease and eventually his life followed. He lost his ability to work and then be an active dad to his six-year-old son and three-year-old daughter.
"I started to deteriorate; it came in peaks and valleys," Rothenberg recalled. "At my worse, I would four or five times a day become completely paralyzed unable to move for 45 minutes to an hour. All I could do was lie down and be frozen. It was a terrifying experience. Even though I knew it would pass, while I was in it felt like your never going to move again."
He went through medication after medication, acupuncture and the disease continued to progress. After six years of this debilitating existence, he finally sought out Dr. Nader Pouratian, a UCLA neurosurgeon who specializes in deep brain stimulation surgery to treat movement disorders such as Parkinson's disease.
The awake-craniotomy entails Dr. Pouratian mapping the brain to find the precise location to implant two electrodes that act like a brain pacemaker delivering electricity that ceases the tremors. On the day of brain surgery, Richard was awake. He found out that both of his doctors, Dr. Pouratian and his anesthesiologist, Dr. Adam Brown, were alumni of his high school Harvard Westlake.
"I felt we all had a strong team spirit," Richard said recalling his brain surgery. "The doctors made the surgery fun, I was telling jokes and quoting Shakespeare. For some people it's a scary thing to have this surgery. I was excited it's like being in the cockpit and very mystical."
Once Dr. Pouratian implanted the electrodes and turned them on, Richard's tremors stopped.
"The effect of the procedure was instantaneous," Rothenberg said. "When they switched me on my nerves felt smooth-for the first time in a long time. I haven't felt this good in years. It was truly magical. I'm the envy of all my non-bionic friends. The effect this has had on my life with my kids-I can now be a physically active father."