Just 10 weeks after Kimberly Spletter underwent focused ultrasound treatment for the dyskinesia – or involuntary movements and shaking – associated with her Parkinson’s disease, she bravely shared her experience at TEDx Charlottesville. Speaking alongside Foundation chairman, Dr. Neal Kassell and Board member and bestselling author, John Grisham, Kimberly recalled how she had gone from a wheelchair on the day of her treatment to running a 5K race in just a few short weeks.
Since then, more than 55,000 people have watched Kimberly’s inspiring talk. [Kimberly’s story begins at the 12:15 mark]
Now, two years later, Kimberly talks about that experience and her life today.
Share what the TEDx experience was like.
It was really intimidating. I didn’t realize it would be such a big event with professional speakers. But Dr. Kassell helped assure me, and John Grisham gave me good advice – “If you get stuck, just tell them a joke.”
When my time came, I was nervous to say the least. But once I was onstage, my story just took over. It was my journey with Parkinson’s, and I wanted the audience to feel how much hope the focused ultrasound treatment had given me.
When the crowd rose in a standing ovation, I was shocked. They had listened, and they cared. It was a great feeling.
How are you doing today with your Parkinson’s?*
I’m doing really well. I have no dyskinesia or dystonia in the side that was treated, which for me, was the side that was most affected by Parkinson’s. On the untreated side, I have a little dyskinesia in my right leg, but it's not bothersome or painful.
I feel like a new person since the procedure. I have my independence back, which is wonderful. This procedure has given me, and others, so much hope. I can do anything and everything that I want to do again. I'm so fortunate to have qualified for the clinical trial – it has given me a new lease on life, and I take advantage of it every day.
*Focused ultrasound for Parkinson’s dyskinesia is not intended to treat the disease, but rather the debilitating symptoms of involuntary movements and shaking. Also, as part of the trial, only one side of the patient’s brain was treated – generally that which controls their dominant hand.
What activities do you enjoy?
I recently participated in a 50-mile bike ride, called the New England Parkinson’s Ride. It was started by a family whose son has Parkinson’s, and it’s a beautiful ride that winds along the coast of Maine. All of the funds raised go to support the Michael J. Fox Foundation. This is my second time participating in the event; this year, we had over 1,000 riders.
I also babysit my 3-year-old grandson a few days a week, and he never stops moving. It feels great to be able to keep up with him.
Do you keep in touch with your physicians at the University of Maryland?
Yes, Dr. Fishman is still my neurologist, so we are in close contact. I just read that Dr. Eisenberg got approval to start a larger Parkinson’s trial, so I’ll reach out to congratulate him.
Last May, they invited me to take part in the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s 210th anniversary gala. I saw both of them at that event, and it was nice to thank the people who helped me in such an immeasurable way.
What kinds of questions do you get from friends and family?
The most common question is, “Would you do it again?” Absolutely, yes. Focused ultrasound definitely changed my life for the better.
Parkinson’s Patient No Longer Just Spinning Her Wheels September 2015
Kimberly Finds Tremor Relief for her Parkinson's Disease (video) April 2016
Parkinson’s Patient Honored at University of Maryland Gala May 2017