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A Company with Heart | U-Step Blog

A Company with Heart

I like to think of U-Step as a company driven by the heart. Our origin story, which many of you are already familiar with, began with my mother. I created U-Step to give her the security and stability she so desperately needed due to her diagnosis of a rare Muscular Dystrophy Disease called “Charcot Marie Toothe”.  We believe that the individualized attention and care to all of our customers is unique and special to U-Step. We’ve found that this not only has created better customer relationships but has also pushed us to innovate our products and grow our company.

When our customers contact us, we listen.  They will often explain their unique situation and challenges, we listen and then we do our best to offer them the best solution. Our goal is to make walking easier and safe for everyone, and every bit of feedback, helps us get closer to this goal. Some of our clients come up with some truly “individual” requests (like disassembling a U-Step to make a beautiful purple walker) but many of their needs or suggestions help us create improvements for many.

U-Step Platform Model

About ten years ago, a father came in with his son who had suffered a brain injury. The young man had a hard time communicating and relied heavily on the use of a communication keypad. I understood almost immediately that our standard U-Step was not what this young man needed. He benefited from the stability of the U-Step but the standard handlebar model wasn’t going to work. I told him and his father that I think I could design platforms for the young man’s arms if they gave me six months to create it.  

After some thought and a few sketches, I ended up ordering large PVC tubing that could be cut in half to make the platforms. I contacted one of my suppliers and asked him to make a few custom parts. After half a dozen attempts, we finally had functional and comfortable platforms. We hired a seamstress to sew custom covers, added foam padding and created custom brake cables. When all was said and done, we invited the young man to come in and test the different models. It made a world of difference for this young man and I knew from that point on, this was a product we needed to offer. 

Before mass production, I wanted more feedback on the design from our clients. I worked with three major rehabilitation centers and about twenty-five U-Step users to improve the product for patient treatment. After receiving feedback and making the appropriate changes, we moved on to mass production of the U-Step Platform, which is one of our best selling designs.

Laser Cueing

Over twenty years ago, the U-Step was being prescribed as a fall prevention device at multiple neurological centers for their Parkinson’s patients. Having a background in research, I sent out a survey to our customers to see how they were doing with their U-Step. Overall, people were doing well but only about half reported that the U-Step was helping them with their Parkinson’s freezing (hesitation). Since the U-Step was working well for these individuals in all other aspects, I decided that trying to develop a feature to address Parkinson’s freezing was important.

I began to search for a solution and discovered that a light cue may be an answer to the problem. I started creating a variety of prototypes while working with multiple electrical engineers. I produced a test product that had LED lights in a row of ten which went off in a line – one at a time. It was a total dud.  The few neurological centers who tried it with patients found no benefit. I entertained many ideas, even holograms, quickly realizing they were out of the question.

Everything changed when I read an article by Dr. Calahan who spoke about using a laser pointer to project a point on the ground to reduce Parkinson’s freezing.  He wrote at the end of his article that it would probably be even better if it was a projected line rather than just a point on the ground. To say I was excited to try this concept is an understatement! I couldn’t wait to see if this could be the answer I was looking for.

We pieced together standard and custom parts to produce a laser-projected line on the ground and quickly realized we now had a solution for Parkinson’s freezing. Dr. Calahan’s theory was correct – a line worked much better! Over the years, we have helped over 20,000 people with freezing by the use of our laser cueing technology.  Our new products have been upgraded and have been through many refinements to improve their effectiveness and ease of use. A year after production, I met with Dr. Calahan and I showed him the product – and he said, “This is my product! I am glad someone did it!”

Physicians have science and information on their side, but most are focused on treating patients and do not have the time or interest to create products – which leads to our next story.

LaserCane

Jane Wright, who ran a Parkinson’s Information and Referral Center, asked me if I could make a Laser cane. She mentioned that a few Parkinson’s specialists at the University of Pennsylvania had played around with the concept but were unable to make the actual product.  Of course, we were up to the challenge.

One of the most challenging aspects was making a custom switch that could handle hundreds of thousands of presses. The activation switch located at the bottom of the cane, is activated with each step a person takes – which quickly adds up into the tens of thousands. Commercial switches are not designed for this high frequency of use, so I realized that we needed to make a super heavy duty switch for our unique application.

This is quite a stretch for a guy with a marketing degree but I worked with a machinist and after a number of tries we figured it out. We refined the product to make it super reliable, including the ability to withstand a fall,  and to be weatherproof – which was a challenge in-and-of itself. After releasing the LaserCane, a customer came into our offices with his LaserCane. He reported that he had accidentally dropped his LaserCane off the tenth-floor balcony of his apartment.  It landed tip-first and he said it bounced up about three stories on the rebound before crashing to the ground. Frantic, he went down to retrieve it and believe it or not, it still worked.


Over the years, our company has changed and evolved to fit our customer’s needs.  I’ve compiled these stories to show that U-Step is not a one-size-fits-all company. We listen to our clients. Just as one question in a crowd can help many, one customer request can inspire a major product change that will benefit many users. So we pay attention, take on challenges, and create durable products that improve the lives of thousands of patients.

Parkinson's and Depression | U-Step Blog

Parkinson’s and Depression

Depression is often the number one factor negatively impacting a person with Parkinson’s quality of life, more than any of the physical symptoms a Parkinson’s patient experiences. That is a powerful and difficult fact to absorb. The strong connection between the two is important to understand in order to address it with the deserved seriousness. Some may believe that facing a chronic illness would be the impetus for depression, and yes, that can be the case, however, when it comes to Parkinson’s disease, often depression is a precursor to a diagnosis. While not everyone with Parkinson’s suffers from depression, enough do that it is important to understand the causes of the depression and the necessary steps to take if it does develop.

What ultimately comes first, Parkinson’s or depression? The answer is – it depends. There are studies that show that people with clinical depression are 3 times more likely to develop Parkinson’s, which means that depression can be an early symptom, as a 2015 study indicates. Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative disorder in which neurotransmitters that are in charge of dopamine production die. People generally associate the lowered dopamine levels of Parkinson’s with movement issues such as tremors, lack of balance, and stiffness. But dopamine is also a “mood-lifting hormone”, which is why its loss in Parkinson’s sufferers can lead to depression as one of the earliest symptoms, seen long before tremors even develop.

Treating Parkinson’s depression with medication

Often the first step in treating depression in Parkinson’s patients is making sure that their Parkinson’s medications are properly regulating dopamine. Once it is regulated, one’s doctor can help find the proper medications that will not adversely affect Parkinson’s medications. It is important to note that there are even some natural supplements that can negatively impact Parkinson’s medications, so it is important to be forthcoming with your doctor regarding any supplements you are interested in trying. Finding the correct medication to treat depression can be a difficult process, whether it be for depression associated with Parkinson’s or not.  But it is possible to find the correct mix of medications so that both the depression and other Parkinson’s symptoms improve. It’s imperative to understand that depression is inextricably connected to Parkinson’s and to treat it as a part of the larger picture of one’s treatment.

Treating with movement

Another way to treat depression is to keep moving. Movement is one of the most essential things one can do if they have Parkinson’s to keep muscles strong and maintain mobility (one of the main reasons U-Step was created). For Parkinson’s patients struggling with depression however, the benefits go even further as exercising gives your body a boost of endorphins and lifts your mood. If you are interested in taking up a new exercise but aren’t sure if it’s appropriate for you, please consult your physical therapist.

Relaxation and sleep

Sleep loss impairs task performance, cognitive performance, and can dramatically affect your mood. Making sleep and relaxation a priority in your day can help improve depression. Efforts should be made to create a bedroom that is conducive to healthy, restful sleep.

Talk therapy

Talk therapy is a useful step whether or not you are dealing with depression. When one is experiencing mild depression, talk therapy can be the best way to get back to recovery, but if you are experiencing severe clinical depression, talk therapy in conjunction with the right medication can do wonders. While medication acts as an incredibly necessary band-aid, talk therapy gives people the tools and skills they need to cope with depression in the long run.

It may seem tempting to focus solely on the physical symptoms of Parkinson’s you are experiencing. But the emotional and psychological needs are equally important and depression experienced with Parkinson’s is often completely treatable. Understanding this and enthusiastically taking hold of the situation to address it with your care team can bring solutions, drastically improve your quality of life, and with that bring a more optimistic light.

Parkinson's awareness month

What You Need to Know About Parkinson’s

It’s Parkinson’s Awareness Month! While not all, but many of our customers use a U-Step to help with Parkinson’s, we want to contribute to your “Parkinson’s awareness”  and hopefully share some lesser-known facts and statistics to broaden your understanding of the disease.

It’s more common than you think

Did you know that there are about 60,000 newly diagnosed Parkinson’s patients every year in the United States? The majority of these cases are men (about 50% more than women) who are 62-years-old or older, but there are those that are diagnosed as young as 50 – and some even younger (Michael J. Fox was diagnosed at 29). This early diagnosis is considered early-onset or young-onset.

Early Symptoms of Parkinson’s are Confusing

Not all early symptoms would make one assume that Parkinson’s is the diagnosis. Of course, there are symptoms connected with mobility that can be seen at an early stage like limb stiffness, balance issues, tremors, and even stooped posture. But there are others that you would not necessarily associate with Parkinson’s unless you stay well informed. These less obvious early signs can include smaller handwriting, changes in the voice, loss of smell, constipation or uncontrollable movements during sleep.

Early Diagnosis is Difficult

Parkinson's Diagnosis

There is no one conclusive test to receive a Parkinson’s diagnosis. Most people who finally come to a diagnosis of Parkinson’s have gone through a myriad of tests including a physical and neurological exam, blood tests, imaging tests (like MRI, CT, and others), and some of these tests are simply to rule out other possible diagnoses. Being aware of persistent symptoms as they come up (like the early signs listed above) and not accept them as simply your “new normal” will give your neurologist the best chance of properly diagnosing your condition.

It’s All About Dopamine

Parkinson’s develops as specific brain cells are destroyed, specifically in the substantia nigra, the part of the brain that is responsible for producing dopamine. Known to most people as the “happiness” or “feel-good” hormone, dopamine is responsible for much more than good vibes. As a neurotransmitter, dopamine also helps with important body functions such as movement, sleep, learning, memory and more. The early signs of Parkinson’s become much more understandable and less disjointed when we look at them through the lens of dopamine loss. The majority of Parkinson’s medications are geared toward either getting more dopamine in the brain (either naturally or synthetically) or blocking the enzymes that break it down.

The Cause is Unclear

The majority of Parkinson’s cases are not genetic. In fact, approximately 15% of patients diagnosed with Parkinson’s have a familial link to the disease (caused by a gene mutation that was passed down). So, wouldn’t that mean that many other people in their family should have the disease as well? It is clear from the research that while genetics do have an impact on Parkinson’s developing in an individual, there are “environmental factors” (toxins and pesticides for example) that contribute as well, but there is yet to be a clear causality link when it comes to these external factors.  

Keep Drinking Your Coffee

Most of us don’t need an excuse to drink coffee, but research suggests that drinking your daily cup(s?) of joe could actually be preventing Parkinson’s and even Alzheimer’s. But just as environmental factors that can cause Parkinson’s are unpredictable and not a clear indicator that you will develop the disease, it’s not advisable to start a coffee habit if you have avoided it for this long especially if it is part of an overall healthy lifestyle (which is also great for Parkinson’s prevention).

No One Experiences Parkinson’s in Exactly Same Way

While there are many common symptoms among those that suffer from Parkinson’s, the disease manifests itself differently from person to person. In particular, symptoms will develop in varying orders and degrees – meaning one person might begin experiencing a few motor symptoms immediately, while others will develop non-motor symptoms in the beginning (like loss of smell, smaller handwriting, and others mentioned above).  There is such a wide spectrum of possible symptoms which is why body awareness is key.

U-Step Walker

Diane Holland and her father

Exercise is a Huge Component of Treatment

While medications that mimic dopamine are common in Parkinson’s patients, never underestimate the power of movement. Parkinson’s patients are often timid about movement due to their tremors and impaired balance, but maintaining movement is one of the best ways to improve mobility. Through physical therapy and continued movement throughout the day, Parkinson’s patients can not only slow down the effects of Parkinson’s on their mobility but it can also improve it over time. Continuing to stay mobile with neurological walking aids and other more physical activities (like boxing and dance) will improve not only Parkinson’s patients’ mobility, but their quality of life including improving sleep problems, fighting fatigue, and improved overall mood.

Your Physical Therapist May Be Your New Best Friend

Because movement and exercise are such a critical part of managing symptoms (including early diagnosis symptoms), finding the right physical therapist who specializes in working with those with Parkinson’s can be key. As Karen Hales from “Neurology Solutions” writes: “Parkinson’s physical therapy should be the first medicine in the treatment of PD. Properly trained physical therapists (PTs) can address issues beyond just the condition’s motor symptoms. Specific exercises targeting PD can have a large impact, and PD experts agree that physical activity is beneficial to PD patients at all stages of their disease, including at early diagnosis. “

Your physical therapist will not only provide you with exercises you can do to improve your mobility and guide you in your Parkinson’s journey, they can also help you select the most appropriate walking aid for your needs and help you decide when it’s a step you might have to take and when. A Parkinson’s diagnosis itself is daunting enough, your Physical Therapists is there to partner with you when making decisions about your current and future mobility needs.

Many People live Busy, Active Lives with Parkinson’s

Because the symptoms of Parkinson’s vary from person to person so greatly, it is impossible to generalize on what a person can and cannot do when living with it. There are very successful well-known celebrities living active lives with Parkinson’s, such as Comedian Billy Connolly (who has used the condition as material in his performances) and Alan Alda.

The former United States Army officer and NASA astronaut, Michael R Clifford, spent over 665 hours orbiting the globe during his three space flights – one of them whilst dealing with Parkinson’s. The American astronaut hid his sickness for years but eventually decided to share his story after realizing that Parkinson’s had never stopped him from reaching his goals. In 2014, he collaborated on The Astronaut’s Secret, a documentary film about his career.

There are many more non-public figures living active, successful lives with Parkinson’s as well.

Caregivers Can Make All the Difference

Care partners play a major role in the team of people treating Parkinson’s. They offer an outside view of how a loved one has been doing in the interim since a previous visit. They are likely to recognize new symptoms or subtle changes that the person experiencing Parkinson’s does not or is simply not willing to admit.

For example, a loved one’s mood or behaviors may have changed and he or she may be more withdrawn. These could be signs of depression, which is a clinical symptom of Parkinson’s and is treatable with medication. A person with Parkinson’s might otherwise dismiss this as a reaction to their diagnosis or not even mention it to the doctor.

Sharing in a loved one’s journey with Parkinson’s disease means integrating the diagnosis together into your lives, adapting your routine and supporting him or her as the disease progresses — essentially, establishing a care partnership. This can sometimes be challenging; from learning about the disease and how best to help your loved one, to remembering to also care for yourself. However, the adjustment often proves to impact both loved ones in so many positive ways. There are steps you can take to help adjust to your new role as a care partner while maintaining a healthy and supportive relationship with your loved one.

There is Still No Cure for Parkinson’s

While the medical establishment has not yet found a cure, there is unprecedented research and development going on today in many countries and in many different fields of science in the exploration of new treatments and cures. There has never been a time to be more optimistic about increased assistance for living with Parkinson’s, and hopefully in the near future – a cure.

A Walker as Unique as You Are

Parkinson’s Awareness month is coming up in just a few days and many people are not aware that many people with Parkinson’s need a different, specialized walker. 

If you, your loved one, or your patient are able to control a standard rolling walker, then, by all means, continue using it. If however, you suffer from Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis, Ataxia, CP or PSP and your mobility needs are not addressed by these basic walkers, then you need to ensure your safety.  Simply stated: getting a walker that supports your specific needs can dramatically impact your quality of life.

Stability Starts with “U”

Balance is the dominant issue with most neurological conditions and individuals with these conditions are at greater risk for falling. That is why the U-Step was designed with its signature “U” shaped base that surrounds the individual and braces them from falling in every direction.  The solid welded base is so strong that it does not flex and bend when you push down on it as you can feel with standard walkers. 75% of the weight of the U-Step is in the base which gives it a very low center of gravity, and is much more stable than other walkers that have their weight distributed proportionally from top to bottom.

Reverse Braking System

With a standard walker, it is hard to come to a standing position without the walker getting away from you. U-Step’s reverse brake keeps the walker stable in brake mode and when you’re ready to walk you squeeze one of the hand brakes and you can walk with it. When you are ready to sit down, the walker will remain a steady support for you then as well. This unique system gives you more confidence with every step as you are actively disengaging the brake and reducing your worry of having to activate the brake if you feel yourself falling.

Tension Control

A common problem with regular walkers is that they simply go too fast for people. Rolling walkers are only helpful if you are able to control them. Our tension feature allows you to dial up the resistance on the main turning wheels and in doing so the walker rolls with some resistance and it’s much easier to walk with. If you ever feel that your walker is moving too fast (or too slow) you can adjust the tension control to your level of comfort.  

Laser Module for Parkinson’s Freezing

Since we focus on neurological conditions, we developed specialized accessories to meet the needs of our customers. Over ten years ago, we introduced our laser module for reducing Parkinson’s freezing and based this revolutionary idea on a paper by a neurologist named Dr. Callahan. The laser module projects a bright line on the ground in front of the user and this helps the majority of Parkinson’s patients walk better with less hesitation. Not only does this reduce the frustration of getting from point A to point B, but it also reduces falls. It is quite remarkable seeing someone go from walking with reluctance to walking with confidence before your eyes.

Durability

The U-Step was designed to handle hard use. As we are well aware, the more severe the condition the stronger the walker needs to be. We designed our bottom frame to be made out of steel tubing in order to handle the stresses people with neurological conditions put on their walker. People with conditions that have advanced – such as Multiple Sclerosis, Ataxia,  Parkinson’s, CP and PSP are very hard on their walkers and from our experience, these customers are our best testers! They can destroy a standard walker in months, but the U-Step’s strength is designed to absorb the stress put on it. (They are also built to be repaired after extensive rough use where other walkers simply snap and must be discarded.)

Every condition that restricts one’s ability to move freely is a challenge. Parkinson’s, like other neurological disorders, comes with unique challenges – as unique as everyone struggling with the symptoms.  The devices that help you manage those challenges also need to be uniquely tailored to support and give a sense of security.

Can a uniquely designed device make that much of a difference?  It can – it does. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing the return of a confident stride in mere minutes because a customer switches to a properly suited – uniquely designed device.

Advancements in Parkinson’s Early Detection

Advancements in Parkinson’s Early Detection

Over the past several months, a surprising number of new innovations and research findings have come out related to early detection of Parkinson’s. While U-Step Neuro walking aids are always there for Parkinson’s patients,  we rejoice every time new research comes out that makes early detection, treatment, and delaying symptoms of Parkinson’s possible. The following are the most recent promising and innovative advancements in Parkinson’s research that we are excited to share with you.

Mobile Apps

The advent of apps has certainly changed our lives, but is it possible that an app could help us detect early signs of Parkinson’s? Taking advantage of the various sensors in our smartphones today, iPROGNOSIS has created an app that uses these sensors to analyze voice quality, steadiness of hand, typing, and even facial expressions (from photos). While this app is still in testing phase, the insights gained could have a tremendous impact on the way in which we detect Parkinson’s in the future.

Typing

After studying a small set of individuals typing (some of whom had early signs of Parkinson’s) over several months researchers concluded that there are clear markers of Parkinson’s that can be determined by the way we type.  Comparing one’s typing against the common frequency or simply by noticing hand tremors while typing, this useful tool could be one of the simplest ways to detect early signs of Parkinson’s for both doctors and individuals. While the results of this study are currently 78% accurate, the researchers are confident that given a larger research pool they can fine-tune their study and improve its accuracy.

Signs in the breath

Is it possible that one day we will simply be able to breathe into a tube and know if we’re showing early signs of Parkinson’s or any other neurological degenerative disease? Nanoparticle biosensor technology has advanced so much that the Israel Institute of Technology began studies to test the accuracy of a nanotube sensor array to detect early sign biomarkers of Parkinson’s disease. After computing their results, they compared their findings to midbrain ultrasound and smell detection tests, which are the current standard for testing for early stages of PD, the researchers are hopeful that this breath test could become the new standard.

Retinal Scanning

Not all early signs of Parkinson’s are motor signs. In a small study in South Korea, participants who were diagnosed with Parkinson’s but were not yet being treated were compared to an age-matched control group with retinal scanning. The results were consistent showing that the Parkinson’s patients had more retinal thinning in comparison to those in the age-matched control group. While this study shows a lot of promise standing on its own they are also looking into a connection between retinal thinning and a reduction in dopamine-producing cells by the brain (also associated with PD). It is believed that once the researchers are able to understand the connection between retinal thinning and dopamine that we will be able to monitor Parkinson’s treatments more accurately in the future.

 

The good news in all of this is that every year we are moving closer and closer to not only early detection but also hopefully, a cure. An early diagnosis might seem scary, however, the more vigilant we can be regarding early detection the more we can understand and prevent symptoms from interfering with patient’s lives. We at U-Step strive to give all of our customers more mobility, longevity and quality of life. And part of that mission is celebrating the hope for future elimination of Parkinson’s and other conditions altogether.

U-Step Lasercane

What a Difference One Little Red Line Makes: Explaining Parkinson’s Freezing and How Cues Help

There are many things in life we take for granted until there is a problem. Walking is definitely one of them.

The basic function of walking is an engineering marvel. We have the majority of our weight above the center of gravity of our body, unlike all man-made products. We expend very little energy moving by shifting weight from one leg to the other as we traverse nearly endless combinations of surfaces and obstacles. In order for us to walk easily and safely, our brain processes many different signals from our body to avoid falling.

About 1/3 of people with Parkinson’s disease experience “freezing” episodes, in which one simply cannot walk. According to The American Parkinson Association, “freezing episodes are sudden, short, transient blocks of movement that occur primarily with initiating walking, turning, navigating through narrow spaces or approaching obstacles. Freezing can last just a few seconds or up to several minutes. Freezing can limit household and community mobility, increase risk of falling and contributes to reduced socialization and quality of life.”

The part of the brain called the “Substantia Nigra” stops producing enough neurotransmitters to convey these signals/messages. It is at that point when Parkinson’s “freezing” presents. Given the brain does not have enough information to know if it is safe to walk, the brain stops you from taking steps.

One proven way of reducing this freezing is by using external cues. One simple cue that generally works for people is placing strips of tape on the floor. The lines on the floor tend to reduce the hesitation.

There are cues – such as physical cues – i.e. holding onto a walker – and vibratory cues that give you a sensation to go that are sometimes effective but not often utilized.

Not everyone responds to cueing.  Approximately 70% of people with Parkinson’s benefit and the level of benefit varies dramatically. There is a difference between Parkinson’s disease and Parkinsonism as was explained by a top Movement disorders specialist (Jeff Bronstein, UCLA). In general, if a person has Parkinson’s symptoms but they do not benefit from the standard Parkinson’s medications, such as Sinimet, they have Parkinsonism and not Parkinson’s disease.   What is interesting is those with Parkinsonism tend to benefit more from cues than those with standard Parkinson’s disease.

For the 70%, why do external cues help? Neurologists are not 100% sure why. I think the best way to explain it is to compare walking to solving a complex math problem. You break up the problem into steps and solve them one by one until you solve the whole problem. Similarly, walking is actually a process made of many smaller ones. When we go to walk, we use our eyes to automatically take measurements of distances to the walls and furniture and other obstacles, and this feedback is plugged into our walking program. This requires a lot of data processing. (If this is hard for you to imagine, close your eyes and try walking normally, your brain will cause you to hesitant too.) If we are not getting enough information quickly, can we figure out how to walk with less information? If you just focus on the next few steps versus walking across the room, it is much less to process. So you focus on just a few steps at a time until you cross the room. Rather than scanning a whole room, if all you had to focus on is a line very close to you, that would be less mental processing. This is one reason why a line on the floor (visual cue) helps.

This is why laser modules on the U-Step and Lasercane are installed to project a line on the floor close to the user. We have helped tens of thousands of people with Parkinson’s freezing. This line needs to be positioned close to you to be effective. If the line is even three feet ahead of you, it becomes less helpful.

In addition to visual cues such as lines on the floors, there are other cues that can also be helpful. Audio cues, for example. When someone with Parkinson’s freezing focuses on a beat pattern, this tends to help them walk and pace themselves. This beat pattern can be found in music or by using a metronome device where you can set the best beat rate.  At U-Step, we incorporated a metronome into our electronic cueing device so people can benefit from both in one product conveniently attached to the handlebar of the U-Step 2. In general, physical and occupational therapists recommend the beat pattern be set slightly faster than the person’s walking. They do not expect people to keep up with the beat, they find this to be most effective.

While freezing itself is involuntary, several strategies can help people with Parkinson’s disease recover during a freeze. If you find yourself stuck, do not “fight the freeze.” That can make it even harder to move forward. Instead, focus on another type of movement, such as moving your arms, until the freeze passes.

Caregivers can also help someone to:

  1. Reverse direction;
  2. March in place;
  3. Find a rhythm;
  4. Aim a laser cue;
  5. And, to countdown.

Freezing isn’t just an inconvenience. It can also be a threat to overall health and wellness — particularly as Parkinson’s disease progresses. Caregivers can help to help promote safety while boosting the quality of life for people with Parkinson’s.

One last thing to keep in mind: Some physical therapists specialize in helping patients with Parkinson’s disease. Be sure to ask your neurologist or physical therapist about other potential treatments for managing freezing.