The journey of naming an odd collection of symptoms is called, for good reason, the diagnostic odyssey. It can take years for gateway health care providers and then sequences of siloed specialists to synthesize clinical findings and a family's observations into a diagnosis.
Consider Hannah's Sames' journey. Hannah had gene therapy for giant axonal neuropathy in 2016, and I tell her story in my book The Forever Fix: Gene Therapy and the Boy Who Saved It. Hannah was diagnosed at age 3; she just attended her junior prom!
The first sign of Hannah's condition, in retrospect, was her tight curls, the consequence of buildup of an abnormal protein, gigaxonin. The second sign was her odd gait as a toddler. A pediatrician, orthopedist, and podiatrist had no idea that the feathery filaments of abnormal gigaxonin were already distorting the motor neurons whose axons stretched down the little girl's legs.
To continue reading, go to my DNA Science blog at Public Library of Science, where this post first appeared.