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Near-drowning in Parkinson’s disease: common or uncommon?
  1. Robert Rutherford1,
  2. Richard A Walsh2,3
  1. 1 Department of Respiratory Medicine, University Hospital Galway, Galway, Ireland
  2. 2 Neurology, Tallaght University Hospital, Dublin, Ireland
  3. 3 Academic Unit of Neurology, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
  1. Correspondence to Dr Robert Rutherford, University Hospital Galway, Galway, Ireland; bob55rutherford{at}

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I am a 56-year-old respiratory consultant with a 10-year history of Parkinson’s disease. I had a deep brain stimulator inserted in October 2020. I had not swum since my stimulator had been inserted although before then I had been a regular summer sea swimmer of average ability. I started sea plunging in February 2022 and noticed mild difficulty even treading water. In August 2022, I went for a lake swim of roughly 50 m. I had taken L-dopa/carbidopa 100 mg/25 mg on an empty stomach about 90 min before. Thirty metres from shore, my arm muscles became extremely fatigued. Very quickly, I realised I was on the verge of drowning. My father suddenly appeared at the shore, and I roared to him, ‘Daddy I’m drowning’. The infantile use of the word ‘Daddy’ was to make him realise that I was not joking and, despite my age, an existential cry to my father to save me. A young man then appeared and helped me out. Afterwards, I was so weak and breathless that I lay prostrate on the ground for 5 min before being able to get up. ‘Never bleed in front of the men’—so when I got back to the house, I had a good cry.

Near-drowning is a reported complication of Parkinson’s disease. A 2018 survey in Portugal and the UK showed that 88% of 309 patients with Parkinson’s disease, all previously capable swimmers, thought their swimming had significantly deteriorated. …

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  • Contributors I am the patient and I wrote the case report. We both conceived the idea of writing the report. RAW- edited my case report and then wrote his commentary piece. We both chose the references.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned. Externally peer reviewed by Ralph Gregory, Poole, UK.

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