A debilitating symptom of Parkinsonís disease is the freezing gait. This is where the Parkinson patientís feet feel stuck or frozen to the ground and is unable to move them. I am 42 years old and have young onset PD. I started having freezing 8 years after my diagnosis and of all my symptoms this has been the most frustrating.
It started as a shuffle, which quickly degenerated into freezing. At first, I averaged between 3 to 5 falls a day at home. Walking through doorways and narrow passages also caused problems.† Moving around outdoors also became difficult. It became so bad that I stopped crossing roads and using escalators. I was afraid of falling and hurting myself badly.
My world shrunk as I† gradually lost confidence moving about. Freezing happens when I am anxious or rushed or distracted. But because it does not happen all the time I did not feel that it warranted using a wheelchair. My Parkinson did not bother me much until this symptom appeared.
The good news is that freezing doesnít bother me anymore, with the help of some hard thinking and researching the net, I have found a way around my freezing problem and my world has opened up again. I have not fallen in a long time and I am now crossing roads and riding escalators. I am not afraid anymore.
On this web page (if anyone finds it) I will share my solution with you. I am not sure if will help anyone else apart from me but who knows it may be helpful to you.
Learning to walk again.
We need to rethink how we walk. I found the term ďcontrolled fallingĒ on the net to describe how people walk. Look up Youtube for a detailed explanation of this. We walk by leaning forward and we place one of our legs forward by lifting the foot up. This forward placing of the foot stops us from falling and moves us forward at the same time. And this cycle is repeated and forward motion is achieved. When my feet freezes up and I am unable to lift it my whole body continues to fall forward with nothing to catch it. Hence I fall.
How to walk differently.
Maintain balance and weight on one foot. Lift other foot using your hip just enough to clear the ground and gently swing other foot forward to itsí new position. Keep your balance (for added balance bend your knee just slightly )and weight still on your back foot until your front foot finds itís new place. Then only shift your weight and balance to the other foot.†† Freezing doesnít effect this motion because you are not required to lift your foot (your leg doesnít do the work), use your hip or tilt your body slightly to lift the foot just enough to clear the ground and swing it forward. This is how you achieve forward motion.
Even though at times I feel anxiety setting in and can feel my legs freeze but I donít fall because my body is still keeping itís balance and I can still swing my leg forward to keep moving.†
I use this method at home where my environment is safe and secure and with the least distractions. Outdoors where there are lots and lots of noise and distractions† I use† a walking stick to help me. My walking stick and one foot act as crutches to keep my balance while I swing my other foot freely forward.††
I use this method because none of the other ways help me. There are many ways that people use to unfreeze their feet. None of them has helped me. If you have trouble with all existing methods maybe you may find this useful. It needs a bit of practice to get use to it but I found it liberating. I donít need a wheelchair. It still need some concentration using this technique. When anxiety sets in, my movement slows down or sometimes stops momentarily. But it's better than freezing and falling over. I offer no guarantees that this will help you, if you find other ways which help you may want to share that as well.I invite you to write a note in my guestbook.†
Young Onset Parkinsonís Disease, Freezing Gait, Shuffling, Shuffle, Walk, Stumble, Swing Walk, Passive Dynamic Walk,† Tai Chi Walk, Controlled Falling, Walk Help, Walking Stick, Cane, Crutches, Movement Disorder, Mobility, Ambulatory Aids, Keeping balance, Prevent Fall, Festinating, Walking disabilities.
I found Youtube an incredibly rich place for ideas. Search with the following keywords:
Passive dynamic walking
Tai Chi walk
Here are some very useful videos.
This video explains "controlled falling"
This video explains "Tai Chi walk", keeping your balance on one foot and moving the other forward.
This video is interesting. You need to turn the volume up high. Shows how music can help with movement.
This video shows how walking can be achieved by gravity alone. No motors or brain required. Using a swing motion as a principle.
This is an excellent video on a walking technique which I use to help me walk. All I have to remember to do is to bend my knees and think of my standing leg when I walk. At home this method has completely solved my freezing and falling forward problem. Outdoors however I still use a walking stick.Sign Guestbook View Guestbook