Mr. Goldfinger


Innovative Test for Early Parkinson’s Paves Way for Patient’s Renewed Quality of Life

Ron Goldfinger, 68, of Boynton Beach, started feeling tremors in his left hand about seven years ago. At first, he didn’t think it was anything serious, but he recalled that his father had suffered from tremors as well. “I figured that I better go check this out to see what's going on,” he said.

What he didn’t realize at the time is that his tremors where a harbinger of Parkinson’s disease. He would undertake an innovative skin biopsy that can detect an abnormal form of alpha-synuclein, a type of protein that is the pathological hallmark of Parkinson’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders.

Mr. Goldfinger’s physician, Sameea Husain Wilson, D.O., director of Movement Disorder Neurology for Marcus Neuroscience Institute at Boca Raton Regional Hospital, part of Baptist Health, determined initially that he was exhibiting signs of essential tremor, a neurological disorder that has similar symptoms to Parkinson’s.

(Watch now and hear from patient Ron Goldfinger and Sameea Husain Wilson, D.O., director of Movement Disorder Neurology for Marcus Neuroscience Institute at Boca Raton Regional Hospital, part of Baptist Health.)

“Essential tremor patients must be assessed for Parkinsonian features,” said Dr. Husain. “And time after time on the serial visits, he did not exhibit any features other than the upper extremity tremors.”

Essential tremor does not normally present with tremors that spread to other areas – a hallmark of the more serious Parkinson’s. Unlike essential tremor, Parkinson’s can also present with bradykinesia (slowness of movement), rigidity and gait/balance problems.

“Everything got slower on me … it was just moving a little slower,” recalls Mr. Goldfinger. “The tremors got worse, even with the medication. Holding hands with my wife is sometimes very difficult because, all of a sudden, the hands will just go. Dr. Hussein and I felt it was time to see if I do have Parkinson's.”

Marcus Neuroscience Institute at Boca Raton Regional Hospital is one of just a handful of highly specialized centers of excellence in the region to offer a Syn-One Test, which identifies abnormal alpha-synuclein proteins in the cutaneous nerve fibers of the skin. These proteins are linked to Parkinson’s and other movement disorders.

Dr. Husain performed the skin biopsy on Mr. Goldfinger, and it came back positive.

It's so fascinating,” said Dr. Husain. “This test essentially served as a biomarker for me to clinically identify Parkinson's disease before it happened. I am proud to say I was one of the first neurologists in the community that was offered the ability to provide this test. I feel it's a feather in the cap of Marcus Neuroscience Institute for us to be able to offer this test to our patients.”

The Syn-One Test involves three small and painless skin-punch biopsies. Most significantly, an earlier diagnosis of Parkinson’s enables neurologists to start their patients on more effective medications and/or procedures.

“As this disease (Parkinson’s) progresses, there are different treatments,” explains Dr. Husain. “And at this juncture, we are currently in discussion regarding Mr. Goldfinger having deep brain stimulation, which is incredible because deep brain stimulation would never be on our radar given that his essential tremors aren't that bad.”

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a surgical procedure for treating a range of disabling neurological symptoms — most commonly the debilitating movement symptoms of Parkinson’s, such as tremor, stiffness, slowed movement, and slowed walking. During DBS, neurosurgeons implant an electrode on the brain. This electrode sends signals to help control tremors, seizures and involuntary movements

“He's going to get a quality of life at some point that will allow him to be with his family, have an active physical life, be able to travel and visit his daughters, and just be happy,” said Dr. Husain.

Mr. Goldfinger describes Dr. Husain as very caring. “I'm very grateful for what they've done for me over the past seven years. I get treated perfectly there -- I'm not just a patient. And the care that I get there is amazing.”

Healthcare that Cares

With internationally renowned centers of excellence, 12 hospitals, more than 27,000 employees, 4,000 physicians and 200 outpatient centers, urgent care facilities and physician practices spanning across Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward and Palm Beach counties, Baptist Health is an anchor institution of the South Florida communities we serve.

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