New Parkinson's test available in Lincoln

LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Every year nearly 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.
Right now there's no cure, but testing for it in Lincoln has gotten a lot easier.
One clinic is using a new technology after a woman advocated for herself and the test.

Linda Schmechel wanted to be tested for Parkinson’s, but the problem was the test wasn't available in Lincoln.
However after asking Advanced Medical Imaging for the test, she became the first known patient to receive a DaTscan imaging test in Lincoln last October.

Parkinson's is a chronic and progressive movement disorder.
It usually starts with tremors and mostly affects people 50 years and older.

"If you can diagnosis Parkinson’s disease earlier you can treat earlier and that can delay the onset of symptoms for many years. It's very important,” said Dr. Daniel Finn.

Dr. Daniel Finn is a neuroradiologist at Advanced Medical Imaging.
He says for the procedure a patient will receive an injection of medicine to better see the brain for the DaTscan.

"It’s a calm procedure and you can just lay back and let the camera take the pictures. It takes about a half hour," said Dr. Finn.

Dr. Finn reads the scans looking at the size and shape of dopamine in the brain.

A negative test is one without Parkinson’s would show dopamine in a comma shape where as in a positive test dopamine is smaller and can be more circular.
This is a game changer for diagnosing the disease.

"Before this test you had to rely on clinical signs and symptoms only, and now this helps in addition to the clinical exam. It increases the confidence, and allows you to possibly diagnosis it earlier," said Dr. Finn.

Before the test came to Lincoln 6 months ago, the closest one was in Omaha.
Since adding the scan AMI has already tested a dozen people.

"Parkinson’s is a worldwide disease and Nebraska is no exception, so to be able to offer this test for the first time in Lincoln is really important to our community," said Dr. Finn.

Linda Schmechel is currently living in Oregon.
She says she was disappointed and stunned when she got her abnormal results back, but the stroke and stage 4 cancer survivor is trying to keep a positive perspective.