Approximately 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson's disease every year - and that number doesn’t reflect the thousands of cases that go undetected.
For 49-year-old Rick James, the initial mild symptoms came without warning in December 2008.
"I went to grab the steering wheel and I had finger twitch,” James said. “And it was the exact same thing they had said talking about Michael J. Fox and his diagnosis. And I was like, uh-oh."
Two years later, his fears were confirmed. James, a father of three, was diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s disease.
"My wife wouldn't let me get on a ladder to put up Christmas lights, and all that stuff anymore,” James said. “It was just getting to the point where I was really frustrated with it."
After struggling with eight different medications to control the disease, the Phoenix native visited Dr. Gino Tutera in nearby Scottsdale, Ariz. Tutera is the creator of SottoPelle, a pellet-based hormone replacement therapy that is implanted under the skin in the hip.
After being injected in a quick outpatient procedure, the pellet begins working almost instantly.
“Within a few days the pellet is engulfed in a series of blood vessels, and as the heart pumps, the body becomes like a child licking a lollipop,” Tutera said.
“So therefore, during times of high needs, that child inside you is licking furiously on on that lollipop, and during times of rest , as the heart rate slows, the amount of hormone that's released is much, much less," Tutera said.
Unlike pills and creams, SottoPelle is the only medication delivery system that allows the body to control the release of hormones. A specialized blood test determines the initial pellet dosage.
"And that's what makes the difference…being able to have hormone there continuously, 24 hours a day, seven days a week," Tutera said.
Tutera has been using SottoPelle in his practice for years on men and women with low hormone levels. Yet it was only recently that he discovered its effectiveness in Parkinson’s patients like James.
"They have improved mobility, they have more energy, they have more tolerance for exercise,” Tutera said. “As well as being about to increase their flexibility, and help decrease the amount of tremor they feel."
Within three weeks of receiving the treatment, James saw a big change.
"I was starting to do my workouts, was feeling great, feeling energized and feeling normal again."
A year later, James has gained 16 pounds of muscle, and is down from eight medications to just one.
For more information, visit www.SottoPelleTherapy.com