Living with Stiff Person Syndrome: 'I'm a statue for your lawn'

Story highlights

  • Stiff Person Syndrome is a rare disorder that causes painful muscle spasms and stiffness
  • Experts estimate one in every 1 million people has SPS
  • Stem cell transplantation may successfully treat this debilitating disease
Laura Kassem had tripped before. But this time, she fell hard. She couldn't seem to control her body as she went down, even to protect her face from hitting the concrete sidewalk.
It happened again the next day as she stepped off an escalator. Then again in the parking garage on Monday when she went to work.
"I had no idea what was going on," the 33-year-old remembers. "I had no idea why I would just drop all of a sudden."
The third time, she went to the emergency room, where a neurologist ordered an MRI and a cardiologist performed a tilt test -- normally done on patients who faint because of a sudden drop in blood pressure.
The tests reveal