Wife Says She Can Detect Parkinson’s By Smell 12 Years After Husband Developed ‘Musky’ Odor

by Gwendolyn Plummer
Gwen is a writer, reader, hockey fan, concert goer, and lunchtime enthusiast.

Twelve years before he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, Les Milne started smelling weird. Or, at least, that’s what his wife Joy says, according to the Telegraph.

Joy noticed that her husband’s typical scent was overtaken by what she called a “sort of woody, musky odor.” At first, she thought Les had started skimping out on showers or brushing his teeth, but he assured her that he hadn’t. In fact, Les couldn’t notice the change in smell himself.

Over a decade later, Les was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, a debilitating disease that, according to the Mayo Clinic, makes it harder for patients to move over time.

According to the Telegraph, Joy began learning more about Parkinson’s after her husband’s diagnosis. In 2012, she attended a lecture about the disease, where she asked senior research fellow Dr. Tilo Kunath why people with Parkinson’s smell different. Months later, Dr. Kunath realized Joy might have been onto something. He tracked her down and brought her into the lab for a test.

Joy smelled 12 T-shirts — six of which had been worn by Parkinson’s patients, and six of which hadn’t. Joy identified all six of the shirts worn by Parkinson’s patients correctly, but also identified a seventh worn by a supposedly healthy control subject. Less than a year later, the person who had worn the seventh shirt was also diagnosed with Parkinson’s.

It was clear then that Joy had a gift. Scientists now think that Parkinson’s causes a change in patients’ skin, which releases the odor well before they show other symptoms. Sadly, Les passed away in 2015, but a skill like Joy’s could help more people get diagnosed with Parkinson’s earlier on, which could help them moving forward.

Check out the video below to learn more about this amazing skill, and please SHARE this story on Facebook!

Photos: Flickr / Brian Fitzgerald; Wikimedia Commons / Tc terencec

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