Parkinson's Symptoms: Freezing Gait



Parkinson's Disease is a common neurological disorder affecting approximately 500,000 new people each year, even more if you consider those who go undiagnosed. There is a wide variety of symptoms that can vary from person to person. A common symptom people with Parkinson's experience is freezing.

Freezing is a temporary inability to move, often feeling like the person's feet are stuck to the ground or even unable to get up from a chair. This freezing is involuntary and can affect other parts of the body or even speech. These freezing episodes can be short but frustrating nonetheless. Freezing can lead to loss of balance, increasing one's risk for falls and risk for injury.

Freezing can happen during a wide variety of activities, including:

  • Standing up from sitting down

  • Walking through a doorway or narrow space

  • Transitioning across surfaces such as hardwood floor to carpet

  • Turning around/turning a corner

  • Multitasking

Although the intention is to move, one can often find their body freezing rather than performing the forward motion that they would like to perform. A decrease in freezing symptoms can occur during medication "on" time or when the medication is in effect, along with reducing other symptoms, but this is not always the case. The cause of freezing is still unknown. It has been studied and found to be linked to neural pathways within the brain, but the exact cause is still being researched. The good news is that there are tricks to help decrease this Parkinson's symptoms.

How Can You Decrease Freezing?

  • Be aware of freezing triggers. If you become more aware of what triggers these episodes, you can be more cautious during those specific activities.

  • For example, if doorways or narrow spaces are likely to trigger a freezing episode, you can prepare yourself in advance and help to decrease a chance of a fall.

  • Look for a target or line on the ground to step towards. Something visible in front of you or on the ground can be helpful to get those feet moving again and "unstuck."

  • Music or sounds with a steady rhythm can be helpful to keep our feet moving at a regular pace.

  • If able, try turning in a half circle rather than pivoting in a small space. This can decrease the chance of freezing and loss of balance.

  • Weight shifting prior to stepping. Some find it helpful to weight shift side to side prior to taking a step to help get moving when frozen.

  • Physical therapy! There are many strategies that can be used in therapy to decrease the likelihood of these freezing episodes.

Freezing episodes can be unpredictable at times, but having strategies in our tool belt to combat them can help to decrease the risk for falls and injuries when they do occur, keeping you or your loved one safe! At Wellness360, Parkinson's diagnosis is our specialty. Our physical therapists work in a one-on-one session to teach specific techniques to help overcome symptoms due to Parkinson's. These sessions help improve one's confidence, reduce one's fall risk and help maintain independence. For more information, visit us at www.wellness360fitness.com.



 

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