Iconic French-Canadian singer Celine Dion's, who suffers from what's known as "stiff person syndrome," is apparently now unable to move much as her disorder has worsened.
In an interview with the French-language news outlet 7 Jours, Dion's sister Claudette explained that the singer "doesn’t have control over her muscles" due to the progression of the autoimmune and neurological disorder that she announced she'd been diagnosed with in late 2022.
As Yale Medicine explains, stiff person syndrome (SPS) can cause both limb rigidity and spasms in the muscles, the latter of which can occur in episodes. While it can run the gamut from mild to severe, it appears that Dion's case has progressed significantly in recent months.
SPS is, as the US National Institutes of Health explains, extremely rare and only affects about one person in every million. Though it remains unclear what exactly causes the disorder, researchers have uncovered some of its underlying mechanisms, including that the immune system attacks the body's glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD) proteins.
In its explainer, Yale Medicine details the difficult diagnostic criteria for SPS, which includes ruling out other disorders that present with similar symptoms like Parkinson's, fibromyalgia, or multiple sclerosis (MS).
Because it's so rare — or, perhaps, because of its strange naming convention — SPS is often misunderstood. Previously known as "stiff man syndrome," the disorder is often dismissed as psychosomatic, or all in one's head, and even Yale indicated that in order to reach a diagnosis, doctors must first rule out that symptoms are not based in a patient's mind.
When discussing her sister's health with the press, Claudette also seemed to express that people have fundamentally misunderstood the icon's illness.
"There are some who have lost hope," Dion's sister told 7 Jours, "because it is a disease that is not [very well] known."
Because SPS is episodic and can, like MS, worsen and improve over time, the singer's older sister said that the family hopes their celebrity sibling will one day return to the stage — but it's not clear whether than can or will occur.
"It’s true that, in both our dreams and hers, the goal is to return to the stage. In what capacity? I don’t know," Claudette said. "The vocal cords are muscles, and the heart is also a muscle."
More on celebrity health: Before She Passed Away, Tina Turner Said Something Heartbreaking About Her Health
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