Fred Hutchinson expert weighs in on Celine Dion’s ‘stiff person syndrome’ diagnosis

Earlier this week, singer Celine Dion revealed she is dealing with a rare neurological disease that gives her severe full-body muscle spasms.

The disorder is called stiff person syndrome.

On Friday, KIRO 7′s Gary Horcher talked to a doctor with Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, who treats people for this specific disease.

According to Dr. George Georges, stiff person syndrome is an auto-immune disorder that causes severe muscle rigidity, tension and spasms. He said it’s extremely rare, affecting one or two in every million people.

Georges believes Dion’s medical team will see how she responds to immune-suppressing medications to stop her body from seizing up. He said it’s hard to imagine a performer being able to stand and sing without responding well to medical treatments, which the doctor said can include stem cell transplants.

“I think it is particularly difficult for individuals who have high performance standards to be able to continue at that high functioning level, I think that would be challenging,” Georges said. “I think it depends on the severity of the disease. Some people appear to have milder stiff person syndrome, other people have more severe stiff person syndrome. The more severe it is, the more intense the treatment needs to be.”

Georges said the ultimate therapy for stiff person syndrome is a complete reboot of the body’s entire immune response system, which is done with stem cell transplants.