Piano-playing Dallas hospital patient with Parkinson's inspires others

By Lori Brown

A patient with Parkinson's disease is giving hope to many other patients at a Dallas hospital.

Every week, Texas Health Dallas is filled with 82-year-old Lucien Leinfelder’s piano arrangements.

Leinfelder is an accomplished pianist. He studied at Juilliard and was a soloist for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. 

But most would never know that while he is playing, he’s also battling Parkinson’s.

“His fingers almost take on a life of their own, where they remember the notes he's played so well throughout his life,” said neurologist Anna Tseng. “It's almost like they come out and take off by themselves."

When he's not playing, just sitting is a struggle.

“The worst thing I have is my balance,” said Leinfelder. “I've fallen down three times, broken three times my hip."

Leinfelder began playing piano when he was 3 and kept playing his whole life.

“Muscle memory is there in his fingers,” said Tseng. “That's why he can go. He's told me if he tries to think about the music, he stumbles more."

Tseng came up with the idea for Leinfelder to volunteer as a pianist at Texas Health Dallas, to the surprise of his other doctors.

“When I finished, he said, ‘This should not be happening,’” said Leinfelder.

Leinfelder says in some ways, it is easier for him to play now.

“I think it's because I have an excuse,” he said. “If I don't play well, I can blame Parkinson's."

Leinfelder wants his music to give patients battling their own diseases hope.

“They come by and give me [a thumbs up], blow me a kiss,” said Leinfelder. “I know it makes them feel good.”