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David Martz MD - 2011 Research Award - Invisible Disabilities Association

David Martz MD

David Martz, MD is the 2011 recipient of the Invisible Disabilities Association Research Honors Award. Dr. Martz has been chosen based upon his extensive ALS-Motor Neuron Disease and Lyme disease research as a physician and a board member of the International Lyme And Associated Diseases Society (ILADS). Born out of his personal experience with ALS, Dr Martz has a passion to discover possible treatments for patients living with these illnesses.

2011 Research Award

Dr Martz is a community physician who practiced Internal Medicine-Hematology-Oncology in Colorado Springs for 30 years (1970-2000).  He has been an assistant professor of clinical medicine at Colorado University Medical Center in Denver for over 20 years, and a member of the Admissions Committee for over 10 years.  He was also the 1994-1995 President of the Colorado Medical Society.  Dr Martz also served as a board member for the International Lyme And Associated Diseases Society (ILADS).

His personal encounter with ALS-Lou Gehrig’s Disease was published in Acta Neurologica Scandinavica in 2006.  To summarize, in April, 2003, he became ill with concurrent symptoms of ALS plus systemic Lyme-like symptoms of arthritis, total body pain, and profound fatigue.  Traditional Lyme tests were repeatedly negative, but after 9 months he was found to have the DNA of Borrelia – the Lyme bacteria – in his system.  By that time he required assistance in dressing, arising from a chair, rolling over, and climbing stairs.  He could walk about 100 feet and stand about 5 minutes.  Atrophy of leg and shoulder muscles was obvious. A definitive diagnosis of ALS was confirmed by his academic neurologist and his life expectancy was estimated at about 2 years.

Based on the evidence of the positive test, a Lyme-focused doctor started him on extended complex antibiotic therapy, and the response was dramatic.  Within 2 weeks the arthritis and body pain had resolved permanently.  At 1 month his stamina had improved from 30 minutes to 3-4 hours.  By 2 months he could cross both legs without help, and by 3 months he could arise from a chair without assistance.  At 12 months he was functioning at 60-70% of baseline strength and stamina, and all clinical signs of ALS-MND except muscle atrophy and weakness had resolved.  Currently – eight-plus years after onset of ALS symptoms – he remains functional at 60-70% of baseline strength and stamina, but with incomplete resolution of the muscle atrophy.

One year after starting antibiotic treatment he opened a “Lyme-focused” research-driven medical practice for two and a half years.  Assisted by other part-time providers, the office saw about 850 patients with possible Chronic Lyme Disease (CLD), including 90-100 with ALS-like disease.  Based on those findings, articles currently in preparation for publication include:

  • 8-year follow-up case report of antibiotic-responsive ALS-like illness;
  • Objective functional improvement in 15 patients with ALS-like disease;
  • Antibiotic-responsive Lyme-like illness in 40 rural Coloradoans;
  • Outcomes of 90 ALS patients treated with extended antibiotic therapy;
  • Case report of antibiotic response of biopsy-proven pulmonary sarcoidosis;
  • Minimal complications of extended antibiotic therapy in 330 patients; and,
  • A clinical study of 850 patients treated with extended antibiotic therapy for “Chronic Lyme Disease”.

Dr Martz is deeply grateful for his own unique reprieve from ALS, for the opportunity to explore application of his personal experience in a clinical research setting, and for the privilege of sharing that experience with the IDA community.