Little Bits of Big Data - A Computer Programmer Challenges his Parkinson Disease

(abstract of poster presented at World Parkinson Congress 2019) (email:

On my being diagnosed with Parkinson disease (PD) in 2010 I was shocked by the gravity of the diagnosis, and upset with how long it took to get the diagnosis as I had been asking various doctors, including neurologists, about various symptoms for years. This motivated me to go to work to learn and do as much as I could to reduce its impact on my life. I learned a lot.

Among many other things I learned is that there are significant benefits from high intensity aerobic exercise.

An example of such high intensity exercise is bicycle riding. Human experiments had shown high cadence biking to be successful at reducing symptoms. Animal model experiments had suggested intense aerobic exercise to be neuroprotective, i.e. stop or slow disease progress (although the US FDA has not approved any medications as being neuroprotective). I conjectured that bicycling, especially high cadence bicycling, COULD be neuroprotective. Further, I also conjectured that better effects, both symptomatic and neuroprotective could come from even higher cadences than had been used in experiments to date. (One big caveat is that at high cadences the risk of injury is greater and one has to be careful.)

Why conjecture? Why not insist on proof? I did not see a reason to wait 10 or 20 years for further research to take place, only to be told that both conjectures were correct and told that I would be far better off to have exercised during that time. I would have lost the benefits of neuroprotection and symptom abatement for those 10-20 years. The situation seemed to favor accepting the conjectures. If they were wrong, I would simply be healthier and have more fun.

I have used the information I could develop from a database of metrics from my exercise (1) to improve my exercising, (2) to deal with a co-morbidity, and (3) to develop a measure of the time-effectiveness of my medication for my movement disorder specialist.

William R. Patterson, MBA, MS, PwP

For a copy of the poster click here.

For a copy of my presentation to the US FDA in 2015 click here.