Feb. 11 - A drug used to ease the symptoms of Parkinson's disease has also been found to boost the creativity of patients who are taking it. Levodopa is designed to increase dopamine levels in the brains of Parkinson's patients suffering from tremors, but researchers in Israel say that in some patients, it's also sparking an outpouring of artistic expression. Sharon Reich reports.
Jacob Sagy has Parkinson's disease, a neural disorder that causes uncontrollable muscle tremors, ..but since he was diagnosed and began taking dopamine-boosting drugs to control the temors, he has discovered a resevoir of artistic talent he never knew existed. SOUNDBITE: JACOB SAGY, ARTISTIC PATIENT SUFFERING FROM PARKINSON'S DISEASE SAYING: "Just like a battery being charged, when it is full one can break out and reach where ever you want, in this sense I felt relief, a sense of relief and aspiration." Sagy's newly unleashed creativity is the likely result of the Parkinson's drugs he's taking, according to Tel Aviv neurologist Rivka Inzelberg. She says she noticed the connection when her patients began to embrace painting and sculpture with unexpected enthusiasm. SOUNDBITE: PROFESSOR RIVKA INZELBERG, NEUROLOGIST AT TEL AVIV UNIVERSITY'S SAGOL NEUROSCIENCE CENTER, SAYING: "As we can see that most of these patients had no artistic skills before and it occurred out of the disease when they were treated with medication so it seems that this is in the background of the disease the medication causes the appearance of creativity." And 75 year old Sagi has been on a creative tear. His dopamine-boosting drugs not only help the tremors but have helped build a new artistic career. He creates wooden sculptures, many of which are displayed in galleries around the world, and has written several books since being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease almost twenty years ago. It's an unexpected, but not unwelcome, side-effect to an often debilitating disease.