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Foundation Updates

Comedian Mike Birbiglia Narrates MJFF Animation Video: “What’s the Connection Between Sleep and Brain Disease?”

Normally when we dream, our brain prevents our muscles from moving. In some people, these brain signals don’t work properly, and they move or act out their dreams while asleep. They may kick, yell, punch or fall out of bed. This is known as REM sleep behavior disorder, or RBD.  

So, how is RBD connected to Parkinson’s disease (PD)? For some people, it’s one of the earliest signs of disease, occurring years before a diagnosis. In others, it happens years into life with PD. Not everyone with RBD gets Parkinson’s. 

To help shed light on RBD’s connection to Parkinson’s, The Michael J. Fox Foundation launches a new animation video, narrated by Mike Birbiglia. You may know Birbiglia from his Netflix comedy specials, his podcast “Working it Out,” or his film “Sleepwalk with Me,” but today comedian, actor and New York Times best-selling author is the star narrator of the video, “Know Your Risk for Parkinson's: What’s the connection between sleep and brain disease?”

Birbiglia, who revealed his own RBD journey on and off-stage, illustrates the important role people can play in helping scientists better diagnose, treat and potentially prevent brain disease. As Birbiglia shares in the video: 

“It may be the last thing on your radar but volunteering for research is so important. People who have RBD can help crack the code on RBD’s connection to Parkinson’s. You and your beautiful complex brain can help researchers understand how and why Parkinson’s starts.” 

Watch the full animation video to hear Mike Birbiglia’s RBD journey (including his wildest dreams!) and learn more about how MJFF’s landmark study, the Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI), is exploring the connection between acting out dreams and PD. Then, stay tuned to our channels for more animation videos exploring Parkinson’s risk factors coming soon. 

If you kick, punch or yell while asleep and do not have Parkinson’s, you can play a critical role in research toward a cure. To learn more, call 877-525-PPMI or email to speak with a member of the PPMI study team. Learn more on our website.

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