The Case of the Frozen Addicts

by J. William Langston, MD, and Jon Palfreman
The fascinating story of 12 years in Langston's career takes him from clinician to organizer of the Parkinson's Institute in California. In the process and with the aid of his growing staff and several Swedish physicians, he thawed out George, Juanita, and Connie, three of six addicts he'd been called to see in 1982. The six had suddenly shown signs of advanced Parkinson's disease that included inflexible or frozen bodies and inability to communicate. An alert and imaginative neurologist, Langston eventually suspected a chemical cause because of indications that all six were addicted to heroin or had used at least some just before the onset of symptoms. Ultimately, Langston unlocked his patients to the point at which a long and tortuous medical detective story could begin. The happy conclusion for the successfully thawed three came after the use of various experimental drugs and the transplanting of, first, adrenal, and finally, fetal, tissues.

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