Robin Williams Autopsy Reveals Possible Parkinson’s Misdiagnosis

Nearly a year after Robin Williams’ August 2014 suicide, details of his autopsy show that he may not have had Parkinson’s Disease, a huge mental stressor during his final days.

Shortly after his passing, his family had released information about his struggle to accept his Parkinson’s diagnosis giving some insight to his death, but with the information obtained from his autopsy, it suggests that depressive trigger may have been just the tipping point the comedian did not need.

The autopsy findings attribute his dementia, not to Parkinson’s, but to Diffuse Lewy Body dementia, the most misdiagnosed form of dementia, according to Dr. James E. Galvin, a professor of neurology and psychiatry at NYU Langone Medical Center. This disease causes clumps of proteins, called “Lewy bodies”, to appear in nerve cells.

Williams’ symptoms of left upper extremity tremor, impairment of left hand movement, anxiety, depression, insomnia, paranoia and unspecified cognitive impairments, are consistent with a Parkinson’s diagnosis, but also of LBD. While similar, LBD causes Lewy bodies to be found throughout the brain while Parkinson’s causes them only to be found in the brain stem. Upon viewing Williams’ brain, proteins were found through the entire brain.

LBD takes an average of 18 plus months and multiple doctor visits to obtain a correct LBD diagnosis; Williams was only 9 months out from his Parkinson’s diagnosis.

Additionally, the autopsy reports that Williams was having only “some improvement” from his Parkinson’s medicine. Prior to his death, he added the drug Levodopa which includes suicidal thoughts as a side effect.

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