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'Twisted' to Debut on PBS Jan. 30, Offering First Look for Many at Rare Movement Disorder Dystonia and Radical DBS Treatment

01-26-2007 07:04 PM CET | Health & Medicine

Press release from: Dystonia Medical Research Foundation

/ PR Agency: Good Studio
CHICAGO, Jan. 22 -- When Laurel Chiten was 17, a car accident sent her to the hospital with a head injury and collapsed lung. Months later, at home and "healed," her neck began jerking uncontrollably. Eventually, a doctor diagnosed her condition as dystonia -- a rare neurological disorder that forces muscles to twist into abnormal, often painful movements or postures.

Today, Chiten is an accomplished producer/director of independent films -- and dystonia is the subject of her latest project. Set to debut on PBS this month, "Twisted" is a presentation of the Emmy Award-winning "Independent Lens" series, hosted by Terrence Howard. "Twisted" airs Tuesday, Jan. 30, 10-11 p.m. ET on PBS stations across the U.S. (check local listings)

"'Twisted' is a sensitive and revealing depiction of the experience of individuals living with dystonia," says Janet Hieshetter, executive director of the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation (DMRF), "as well as universal themes about the human condition." According to the DMRF, dystonia is the third most common movement disorder after Parkinson's and tremor, affecting 300,000 people in North America.

Chiten follows three people as they confront the disorder with courage, hope and humor:
-- Basketball coach and tri-athlete Pat Brogan, who developed dystonia after being sideswiped by a hit-and-run driver on a pre-dawn bike ride
-- Shari Farber-Tritt, who found her voice (and husband Ira) in an Internet chat room, after a surgery many years prior left her unable to speak clearly
-- Artist Remy Campbell, who walked bent over at a 45-degree angle before undergoing an experimental new surgery called "deep brain stimulation" (DBS), in which electrodes were implanted in her brain to normalize its electronic activity

Although widely used to treat Parkinson's, DBS was only recently "endorsed" for dystonia, by a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine (Nov. 2006).

"Twisted" was produced by Blind Dog Films for the Independent Television Service (ITVS). Other films by Chiten include "Touched" (2003), "The Jew in the Lotus" (1999) and "Twitch and Shout" (1994). For details, visit

Founded in 1976, the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation is dedicated to advancing research, promoting awareness and supporting the well-being of all persons affected by dystonia. The Foundation is comprised of 75 local volunteer groups and a membership of 32,000 people. To learn more, visit

Jamey Lundblad
Good Studio

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