PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The actor Michael J. Fox was just 29 when he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1991 but now it’s become a trend with a growing number of young people with the brain disorder.
It’s still rare but cases of Parkinson’s disease are increasing.
What has doctors stumped is why there are now so many young people with it.
Parkinson’s disease hasn’t impacted Brian Taylor’s balance but he does have tremors.
“It happens more when I’m nervous, anxious, higher stress level,” he said.
The former baseball player from Phoenixville is part of a growing trend of younger people being diagnosed with the brain disorder.
“It started when I was about 30 years old, about eight years ago when I had a tremor in my right hand,” Taylor said.
Research shows there’s been a 50% increase in Parkinson’s cases over five years, many patients are under age 50.
“I try not to let it impact or define me,” Taylor said.
The cause of Parkinson’s disease is unclear and it can take months even years to diagnose.
“Really it comes down to the patient’s story and physical examination,” Dr. Anh-Thu Vu said.
Jefferson Health Neurologist Dr. Vu said brain imaging can be helpful and Parkinson’s is more likely in people who had concussions or been exposed to pesticides. Symptoms can get worse over time.
“Of course, it’s in the back of my mind I don’t necessarily worry about those things, things I don’t have control over,” Taylor said.
Dr. Vu who diagnosed Taylor said Parkinson’s traditionally is found in people over the age of 60 but not anymore.
“Is it something in the environment, is it our better awareness of Parkinson’s disease?” Vu said. “It’s not likely to be one thing but likely to be more than one thing all put together.”
Taylor says he’s still playing golf and working full time and hoping to help others through the Parkinson’s Council and its support groups.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen next and Parkinson’s is something that affects everyone differently and progression is pretty much unpredictable,” Taylor said.
Taylor is hosting a golf tournament on Thursday at Spring Hallow. All the proceeds are going to the Parkinson’s Council.
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