He hiked a part of the 2,200-mile path final 12 months, simply to see whether or not he may do it — and now, six years after his prognosis, Schoenthal is aiming to hike the relaxation.

Parkinson’s illness is a neurodegenerative dysfunction that impacts almost a million Americans, in accordance to the Parkinson’s Foundation. It’s the second most typical neurodegenerative dysfunction, behind solely Alzheimer’s disease. Parkinson’s sufferers usually expertise a tremor, slowness of motion, stiffness, or gait and stability issues. But many can nonetheless dwell a full life.

“A diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease is not a death sentence,” Dr. James Beck, senior vp and chief scientific officer of Parkinson’s Foundation, advised NCS. “It is a disease people struggle with over time, but it is one that people can still live their lives with.”

There isn’t any remedy for Parkinson’s, however there are drugs to assist sufferers take care of signs. Exercise can be really useful to assist sufferers maximize their high quality of life.

Schoenthal, 56, advised NCS that when he was identified, his neurologist pressured to him that exercising was simply as vital as, if no more vital than, his medicine. All the extra purpose, he says, to get on the path now.

After hiking the first 300 miles in 2020, Dan Schoenthal got back on the trail April 3 to complete the remaining nearly 2,000 miles.After hiking the first 300 miles in 2020, Dan Schoenthal got back on the trail April 3 to complete the remaining nearly 2,000 miles.

A virtually 2,200-mile journey

The Appalachian Trail is the “longest hiking-only footpath in the world,” in accordance to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. It passes by 14 states from Georgia to Maine.

Of the 1000’s annually who try to hike the complete path — what’s known as a thru-hike — just one in 4 makes all of it the manner, the Conservancy says.

Schoenthal, of Great Valley, New York, did the first 300 miles of his journey final August, with a plan to hike simply in August and September to see whether or not he would find a way to tackle the feat. He began again up April 3, with the aim to end the remaining roughly 1,900 miles by the finish of July or early August.

He spoke to NCS from mile marker 413, close to the Tennessee-North Carolina border.

“I wake up a little stiff and sore every morning, but I stretch out and get my gear together and by the time I eat a little breakfast and have some water, I’m usually pretty good to go,” Schoenthal stated.

He’s taking over this problem not simply to attain the aim he is thought of for years or to hold his physique transferring. He’s additionally elevating consciousness of the illness and funds for the Parkinson’s Foundation, a non-profit devoted to enhancing look after these with Parkinson’s and discovering a remedy.

“We don’t know for the vast majority of people what causes their Parkinson’s disease, how Parkinson’s progresses or how to stop the disease itself,” Beck advised NCS.

A prognosis of exclusion

Another issue with the illness is diagnosing it.

“It’s not a disease you can diagnose with a blood test or brain scan,” Beck stated. “It’s often a diagnosis of exclusion,” that means docs usually get rid of different causes of signs first. With most not getting identified till at the least their 60s, Beck stated it may be a very irritating for youthful sufferers to be identified.

“Clinicians are not expecting Parkinson’s disease in someone in their late 40s, maybe early 50s, so getting an accurate diagnosis can take a little while.”

Schoenthal stated it took virtually three years for him to get his prognosis. He stated knew one thing was off whereas he was coaching for a marathon in 2012, after finishing a half marathon.

“I started having shortness of breath and my legs started dragging. I was doing a 3- or 4-miler and I came home and told my wife, ‘Something just ain’t right. I don’t know what it is, but something ain’t right.'”

He was identified with a necessary tremor, which Beck stated is a standard misdiagnosis Parkinson’s sufferers obtain.

Over the subsequent few years, Schoenthal stated, his muscle groups bought stiffer and tremors bought worse. In 2015, he bought the Parkinson’s prognosis.

Schoenthal stated whereas he has a tremor in his left arm and left leg, he hasn’t seen a lot development of the illness, which is why he knew this was the 12 months to tackle the path.

“I’m going to listen to my body and if my body says to slow down or stop, that’s what I’ll do. But so far, so good.”