Comedian, Actor Richard Lewis Reveals Parkinson's Diagnosis
Comedian Richard Lewis is the latest celebrity to reveal that he has been diagnosed with the central nervous system disorder Parkinson's disease.
Lewis, 75, said in a video shared on Twitter Sunday that he'd had a series of health complications over the past 3 ½ years.
When he noticed he had "started walking a little stiffly" and was "shuffling" his feet, he sought care.
"I went to a neurologist and they gave me a brain scan and I was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, and that was about two years ago," Lewis said in the post. "But luckily I got it late in life and they say you progress very slowly if at all and I'm on the right meds so I'm cool."
Lewis also said in the video that he had been having “sort of a rocky time” with four surgeries, one after the other on his back, shoulder and hip.
Known for "Curb Your Enthusiasm," the comedian said he is finished with stand-up comedy and is now focused on writing and acting.
"I have Parkinson's disease but I'm under a doctor's care and everything is cool," Lewis said. "I just wanted to let you know that's where it's been at."
Parkinson's disease is the second-most common neurodegenerative disorder, after Alzheimer's disease. It is both chronic and progressive. People typically are diagnosed about age 60 or older, and it's more common in men than in women.
About 500,000 Americans have been diagnosed with Parkinson's but the actual number is likely much higher, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
Experts cite genetics, including specific mutations, and environmental triggers as among reasons some people end up with the condition, CBS News reported.
Some have mild symptoms, but for some, motor symptoms can be severe.
Symptoms can include tremor, stiffness, impaired balance, speech changes and slowed movement. Patients may be able to control symptoms with medication and lifestyle changes, especially aerobic exercise. Some may need surgery. Physical therapy can help with balance, and a speech-language pathologist may help with speech problems.
Lewis joins other well-known entertainers who have shared their struggles with Parkinson's, including actor Michael J. Fox, who was diagnosed in 1991 at age 29, and singer Neil Diamond, now 82. Diamond first spoke publicly about his diagnosis in January 2018.
"I was in denial for the first year or two. When the doctor told me what it was, I was just not ready to accept it," Diamond told CBS News. "I said, 'Oh, OK. I'll see you, you know, whenever you wanna see me. But I have work to do, so I'll see you later.' "
But, Diamond added: "This is the hand that God's given me, and I have to make the best of it, and so I am.”
The U.S. National Institute on Aging has more on Parkinson's disease.
SOURCES: Twitter; CBS News; U.S. National Institutes of Health