Celine Dion, the renowned Canadian singer, faced a challenging year battling “stiff-person” syndrome, a rare neurological disorder affecting her muscles and mobility. Dion’s sister, Claudette Dion, disclosed that Celine no longer has control over her muscles due to the condition. The neurological disorder, also known as Moersch-Woltman syndrome, is characterized by rigidity, heightened sensitivity to stimuli, and emotional distress.
Claudette, a singer and CEO/spokesperson for the Fondation Maman Dion, shared the family’s struggles with Celine’s health. Despite the outpouring of support and prayers from fans, the singer continues to grapple with the effects of the rare disorder. Claudette expressed the sadness of witnessing Celine, known for her discipline, lose control over her muscles.
Stiff-person syndrome is a one-in-a-million neurological disorder with autoimmune features that induce rigidity and hypersensitivity. Patients often exhibit hunched and stiffened postures. Celine Dion disclosed her diagnosis in December 2022, leading to the rescheduling of tour dates initially postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Eventually, Dion canceled the remaining dates of her world tour in May 2023 due to her health struggles.
Claudette emphasized the family’s dream for Celine to return to the stage, but the uncertainty surrounding her condition poses a challenge. The rarity of the disorder limits scientific research, making it difficult to find effective treatments. Vocal cords, being muscles, are affected, making Celine’s situation even more poignant.
Celine Dion had previously faced health challenges, postponing concert dates in 2014 due to inflammation in her throat muscles while caring for her husband Rene, who battled cancer and passed away in 2016. Stiff-person syndrome predominantly affects women, with twice as many cases reported in females compared to males. Associated with autoimmune diseases like Type 1 diabetes and vitiligo, the disorder’s cause remains unclear.
Management involves drugs to alleviate muscle spasms and antianxiety medications. Intravenous immunoglobulin treatment, involving natural antibodies from healthy donors, has shown promise in reducing stiffness. Despite the difficulties, Celine Dion made a public appearance in November, greeting the Montreal Canadiens NHL in Las Vegas, marking one of her few outings since the diagnosis.