NorthShore-Mayo Clinic Collaboration Restores Patient's Mobility

It seemed nothing could slow down Tommy Foster, an active man in his early 40s who traveled frequently for business and loved to train and play with his four dogs. That is, until the effects of a mysterious neurological disorder began to overtake his life. He first experienced weakness in his left hand, which then spread to his left arm and leg. Walking and climbing stairs became difficult. As the condition worsened, Foster was even forced to take a leave from his job.

Seeking answers to what was causing these distressing physical changes, Foster turned to his primary care physician, Mark Drexler, MD, who referred Foster to Demetrius “Jim” Maraganore, MD, Medical Director at NorthShore Neurological Institute and the Ruth Cain Ruggles Chair of Neurology.

“Dr. Maraganore spent so much time with me on my initial visit. It was extraordinary!” exclaimed Foster, 44, of Grayslake. Both Maraganore and Drexler “went above and beyond,” he added.

Dr. Maraganore put Foster through a battery of tests and narrowed the diagnosis to a couple of conditions related to Parkinson’s disease. He also took advantage of NorthShore’s collaboration with Mayo Clinic to consult with neurology colleagues there and suggested Foster undergo follow-up testing at Mayo.

The NorthShore-Mayo connection meant an expedited referral for Foster. “It was amazing, it was so seamless,” Foster said. “That was the magic of it, it was so easy. The NorthShore clinical team worked quickly and I was up at Mayo within two weeks.”

The Mayo visit helped confirm Dr. Maraganore’s diagnosis of Parkinsonism—a variant of Parkinson’s disease—and led to a different course of treatment. Foster is on new medication that is making a huge difference in his life. He is back to work, traveling again and playing with his dogs.

Dr. Maraganore still sees Foster at his NorthShore office, closely monitoring his condition for any changes. Foster also will return to Mayo Clinic later this year for additional follow up testing.

“I still have occasional challenges but there’s just been a huge difference day-to-day,” he said. “I truly feel lucky to have landed at NorthShore with all they have to offer, including the connection to Mayo.”

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