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Roy Roden

Neurosurgeon: Jonathan R. Jagid, M.D.

UHealth Parkinson’s Patient Finishes Cross-Country Bike Trek at Miller School

A fitness-buff diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease is demonstrating how the disease can be managed with a celebratory homecoming event that has been months in the making. Roy Roden and his wife Lynn are wrapping up a four-month long, national cross-country trek , the “PD Challenge,” by pedaling to the Miller School of Medicine on Friday, March 1.

Roden, a 55-year old University of Miami Health System patient, turned his diagnosis and treatment by Miller School physicians, into a cross-country inspirational message. The goal of their tour, which started in Seattle and has spanned 4,500-miles, has been to raise awareness and research funds for Parkinson’s disease, and along their route, they have spoken to hundreds of patients along the way.

Diagnosed in 2009, Roden’s condition left him increasingly frustrated. His symptoms worsened over time and the effectiveness of his medications decreased, leaving the former personal trainer with difficulty performing basic tasks, such as feeding himself, shaving and getting dressed. This was particularly difficult for Roden, who could no longer enjoy his normally active lifestyle that included a passion for motorcycles, exercise and the outdoors.

With the help of his UHealth physician, Carlos Singer, M.D., professor of neurology, Roden was directed to pursue Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) Therapy, a treatment option proven to reduce some of the most disabling symptoms of Parkinson’s.

Jonathan Jagid, M.D., associate professor of neurological surgery, surgically implanted the medical device, which works similarly to a cardiac pacemaker, to deliver electrical pulses to precisely targeted areas of the brain involved in motor control and muscle function. Electrical stimulation of these areas suppresses the symptoms of the disease. The device is placed under the skin in the chest, and very thin wires connect the device to the brain to enable the signals to reach the source of symptoms. The stimulation levels were then programmed and adjusted non-invasively by Bruno Gallo, M.D., assistant professor of neurology, to maximize symptom control and minimize side effects.

The 37-year veteran of the fitness industry says “This is my chance to do something bigger than myself. It is my mission to educate people with Parkinson’s about the opportunities they have to live an active life with this debilitating disease.”

The Rodens have been making this cycling and educational journey with their two dogs in tow much of the way. Connecting with other patients has been the highlight. “Interacting with people for this great cause has restored my faith in humanity,” says Roden. “It’s been a great ride.”