People living with Parkinson’s disease (PD) may find moving around does not come as naturally as it once did. It might seem counterintuitive, but to increase your confidence moving, you have to move!
- Build physical activity into your daily routine: garden, do housework or wash the car, as you are able.
- Walk with a friend or family member. Exercise does everybody good.
- Attend a community exercise program. Call the Parkinson’s Foundation Helpline at 1-800-4PD-INFO (473-4636) to find a nearby exercise group.
- Move around often. If you watch TV, walk during commercials.
- Play some upbeat music and dance.
There may come a time when you need extra support. There are plenty of options.
Getting Around: Canes, Walkers and Wheelchairs
If you experience freezing of gait, there are canes and walkers available that project a laser line to help cue your steps. In-Step has a laser cane with a triangular rubber tip that is more stable than a standard rubber tip and is easy to put down correctly (Triangular tip is optional, not pictured at right.)
- Get a straight cane with a rubber tip. Avoid tripod or quad canes (those with three- or four-point bases). People with PD tend to have difficulty using these canes since they provide less stability because all points don’t touch the ground at the same time.
- Hand grips should be comfortable.
- Adjust the cane height for best support.
- Hiking sticks or poles are also helpful and can help maintain better posture while walking. Consult a physical therapist to determine whether these devices are safe for you.
- Use a walker with four or more wheels for better stability and to make turning easier.
- Special walker features such as large wheels, swivel casters and hand brakes give the most stability.
- Walkers with built-in seats and baskets can be especially helpful.
- Avoid four-post walkers or standard walkers. Picking up the walker to advance it can cause a backward loss of balance.
Wheelchairs: Choosing the right one
As PD advances, a wheelchair may become a necessity. It is important to know what to look for when picking the chair and who on your comprehensive care team can help you make this decision.
Here are a few tips to guide you through the process:
- Schedule an appointment with your occupational or physical therapist to find out which chair best meets your needs.
- Check with your insurance company to learn about covered services in your plan. Not all wheelchairs will be covered.
- Try to pick a lightweight wheelchair, as they are easier to lift in and out of the car. Depending on your needs and your caregiver situation, you might want a wheelchair with more features for the home and a lighter, even foldable, wheelchair for travel.
- Choose a reclining chair back, which is helpful if making posture changes, have low blood pressure or need to rest during the day.