The man who battled Parkinson’s with magic and music

Meet Richard Horn, a neuroscientist by trade and professor emeritus of physiology at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadephia, United States.

Meet Richard Horn, a neuroscientist by trade and professor emeritus of physiology at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadephia, United States.

When Horn was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2010 he thought he would have to give up doing everything that he loves.

“The diagnosis in 2010 was devastating to me,” 70-year-old Horn told CNN.

He had recently retired as a researcher and teacher and was quite excited about devoting more time to his music, magic and woodwork.

“I was passionately engaged in these activities when the disease crept up on me,” Horn says. “I saw all the beauty of magic and music being taken away from me.”

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive motor system disorder that can cause gradual loss of movement, but Richard Horn refuses to let the disease stop him.

However, inspired by stories of magicians who overcame health obstacles, the retired teacher uses those activities he’s passionate about to fight the progression of Parkinson’s.

Richard Turner, for example, got scarlet fever when he was nine years old and a few years later became totally blind,” Horn says. “Nevertheless, he is now one of the best card handlers on the planet.”

He continues to play the piano several times a week and says the activity has improved his physical conditioning.

“It improves my coordination pretty dramatically,” Horn says.

And he also performs magic.

“I changed my focus to people. Poetry and artistry are things that drive magic, not fast hands,” Horn says, believing that his performances have improved in recent years. “I learned that magic comes from inside you, not from technical skills.”

Horn says he discovered that the more he used his hands, the less problematic his tremors were and it has encouraged him to continue practising those things he enjoys.

“I learned from my neurologist, and from reading information online, that exercise is one of the best ways to slow the course of the disease,” Horn says.

In fact, for people with Parkinson’s disease research has shown that exercise is particularly important to help maintain balance, strengthen muscles and increase mobility.

The Shake It Up Australia Foundation says some of the best exercises for Parkinson’s sufferers — with doctor’s approval, of course — include dance classes, boxing, cycling and even fencing.

In Australia Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurological disease after dementia. Of the 10 million individuals worldwide suffering 70,000 of them are Australians.

Currently there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, and while its progress is unique to each person who suffers it is also degenerative meaning the symptoms get worse over time.

Do you or someone you know suffer with Parkinson’s disease? What activities has kept you/them going?

  1. Merelyn Tolmie  

    My mother was diagnosed with Parkinsons many years ago – I think she was in her 70’s but was still playing croquet and tennis several times a week. Her doctor encouraged her to continue with these activities. The Parkinsons slowly worsened but she persevered. About ten years later she was having trouble drinking from a cup without spilling the contents. Around that time she had allergy tests for other problems which showed she was allergic to dust mites and mould. We sprayed their entire house, clothes, bedding, curtains with eucalyptus diluted in water and this helped her respatory problems enormously but we also noticed a huge improvement in her Parkinsons. They were also both much healthier and didn’t snore as loudly!! She will be 93 in August and in good health and the Parkinsons, while still there, is not a big problem for her.

  2. A study was published in the American journal of epidemiology in 2006 in which the authors prospectively investigated the association between intake of dairy products and risk of Parkinson’s
    disease among 57,689 men and 73,175 women from the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Prevention Study II Nutrition Cohort. A total of 250 men and 138 women with Parkinson’s disease were identified during follow-up (1992–2001). Dairy product consumption was positively associated with risk of Parkinson’s disease: Compared with the lowest intake quintile, the corresponding relative risks for quintiles 2–5 were 1.4, 1.4, 1.4, and 1.6 (95 percent confidence interval (CI): 1.1, 2.2; p for trend 1⁄4 0.05). A higher risk among dairy product consumers was
    found in both men and women, although the association in women appeared nonlinear. Meta-analysis of all pro- spective studies confirmed a moderately elevated risk of Parkinson’s disease among persons with high dairy product consumption: For extreme intake categories, relative risks were 1.6 (95 percent CI: 1.3, 2.0) for both sexes, 1.8 for men (95 percent CI: 1.4, 2.4), and 1.3 for women (95 percent CI: 0.8, 2.1). These data suggest that dairy consumption may increase the risk of Parkinson’s disease, particularly in men. More studies are needed to further examine these findings and to explore underlying mechanisms.
    Inflammation and other immune processes are increasingly linked to psychiatric diseases, Anti-casein IgG associations with bipolar I diagnoses, psychotic symptom history, and mania severity scores suggest that casein-related immune activation may relate to the psychosis and mania components of this mood disorder.
    Dr. William Philpott found that 92% of those with mental disorders reacted to one or more substances as follows: · Wheat – 64% · Mature corn – 51% · Pasteurized whole cow milk – 50% · Tobacco – 75% with 10% becoming grossly psychotic, with delusions, hallucinations, and, especially, paranoia · Hydrocarbons – 30%. Weakness was common. Some participants reacted with delusions or suicidal inclinations.
    Fight or flight responses are responsible for many of the symptoms of mental health issues like depression, anxiety, restlessness, sleeping disorders, anger, irritability, bipolar (activation of the sympathetic nervous system through the release of norempinephrine followed by the activation of the parasympathetic systems activation of the ‘rest and digest’ response through the activation of the release of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.) and social withdrawal as in ADD/ADHD.
    The answer seems to be, not in music, but in an avoidance of the causes of mental diseases.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *