U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson announced that he is one of over 1 million Americans with Parkinson’s on Wednesday.
In a statement released by his press office, Isakson said he first went to see a neurologist in 2012 for stiffness in his left arm. After continuing to see the neurologist he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2013.
Isakson said his main symptoms are stiffness in his left arm, and a slowed, shuffling gait.
“My diagnosis has not impacted my ability to represent the state of Georgia in the U.S. Senate,” Isakson said. “I am serving on five Senate committees and am the only Republican serving as chairman of two Senate committees. I am busier and have more responsibility today than ever before in my political career, and I couldn’t be happier about that. I remain devoted to public service, to my state and to my constituents. I am eager to take my record of results to the voters of Georgia as I run for re-election in 2016.”
The statement went on to say that Isakson shared the news with his three grown children and senior staff a couple of months ago. He recently decided to go public with it, to carry on the same transparency he has championed throughout his career.
“I have been seeing Senator Isakson as a patient since November 2012,” said Isakson’s treating neurologist, Thomas M. Holmes, MD. “He first came to see me with a symptom of rigidity in his left arm. After several additional visits, I diagnosed him as having Parkinson’s disease in August of 2013.”
Holmes said from his most recent assessment of Isakson on May 27 that he is in stage 1.5 of five accepted stages of Parkinson’s disease.
“This staging is indicative of his mild symptoms of Parkinson's disease,” Holmes said. “Senator Isakson has been treated with medication since August 2013 to assist his body's naturally occurring dopamine and to limit symptoms of Parkinson's disease. In addition, I have Senator Isakson doing daily exercises every morning and evening, and I had him undergo a rigorous physical therapy regimen tailored to treat symptoms of Parkinson's disease.
“I believe he is fully capable of continuing to perform his duties as a U.S. Senator, and I believe he is fully capable of running for re-election and serving for another term.”
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also expressed his support for Isakson.
“No one works harder than Johnny Isakson, who is the only Senator who is chairing two committees in the Senate," he said. "This diagnosis will not slow him down one bit.”