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The Waiting Room: neurological observations made outside the movement disorder specialist’s consulting office
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  • Bastiaan R Bloem, Rui Araújo, Bart P van de Warrenburg, Anthony E Lang and Andrew J Lees
    Published on:
  • Sergio A Castillo-Torres, Fernanda Flores-Alfaro and Ingrid Estrada-Bellmann
    Published on:
  • Published on:
    Response to Torres et al
    • Bastiaan R Bloem, MD, PhD Radboud university medical centre
    • Other Contributors:
      • Rui Araújo, MD
      • Bart P van de Warrenburg, MD, PhD
      • Anthony E Lang, MD, FRCPC.
      • Andrew J Lees, MD, FRCP, FMedSci.

    We thank Dr Torres and colleagues for drawing the readers’ attention to the additional value of observing patients with parkinsonian syndromes even before they enter the hospital premises. They focus specifically on the question how neurologists should act when one incidentally spots clear signs of a neurological disease among total strangers in social situations, and they emphasize just how exceptionally difficult this may be for experts in movement disorders, as these conditions can be very visible even to bystanders. Many readers will recognize how compelled one can feel to make a heartfelt recommendation to strangers to seek a neurological consultation, for example when they demonstrate clear-cut signs of Parkinson’s disease or some other neurological condition. However, we have neither acted on the impulse as this would be a serious breach of this person’s privacy. In addition, we need to realize that we are fully ignorant of the person’s context, barriers and motives that have prevented this person – who might already be aware of the signs - from seeking medical attention. We agree that one can only observe, but interfering would be out of line. Indeed, we previously observed a remarkable Parkinson-like gait disorder in Russian president Vladimir Putin and several other highly ranked Russian officials,1 just because we could not suppress our almost innate tendency to analyze movements, in this case when observing the publicly available v...

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    Conflict of Interest:
    None declared.
  • Published on:
    Outside The Waiting Room
    • Sergio A Castillo-Torres, MD Hospital Universitario "Dr. José Eleuterio González”
    • Other Contributors:
      • Fernanda Flores-Alfaro, MD
      • Ingrid Estrada-Bellmann, MD

    As I make my way to the outpatient clinic, late as usual after the morning rounds to start another busy day, an unusual walk in front of me seizes my attention: an elderly lady, with a narrow-based and short-stepped gait, decreased left-arm swing and stooped posture; unable to see her face, I assume she’s heading for the neurology outpatient clinic. Yet she passes by and I lose sight of her on the ophthalmology service. Not a patient of ours, I think to myself. That same night, while having supper at a restaurant with my soon-to-be-wife, I notice a few tables away a man on his seventies celebrating his birthday, surrounded by family. In front of the candle-sparkling birthday cake, I get a glimpse of an unusual face: elevated eyebrows, like on a permanent surprise, unable to direct his gaze to the cake—Procerus sign and vertical gaze paresis—I think to myself, while I notice the stooped posture and global slowness of movements while everyone on the table compliments him—parkinsonism also, definitely progressive supranucl…—“You’re doing that again, leave the man alone.” My train of thought gets wrecked by my fiancee, not being the first time, she knows I tend to distinguish and observe people with abnormal movements. I leave the man alone and finish my supper. -SACT.

    It was with exceptional interest that we read “The Waiting Room”, by Araújo et al. recently published online on Practical Neurolo...

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    Conflict of Interest:
    None declared.