For people with Parkinson’s, 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: Include gardening, housework or washing the car, as you are able.
- Walk with a friend or family member: A little exercise does EVERY body good.
- Attend a community exercise program. Call 1-800-4PD-INFO to find an exercise group near you.
- Move around frequently: If you watch TV, walk during commercials.
- Put on some upbeat music and dance.
There may come a time when you need extra support. Don’t worry, there are plenty of options.
Getting Around: Canes, Walkers and Wheelchairs
If you experience freezing of gait, there are laser canes and walkers available. These have a laser that projects a 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.
- Hand grips should be comfortable, and the height of the cane should be adjusted for best support.
- Hiking sticks or poles are also helpful and can help you keep a better posture while walking. Be sure to consult a physical therapist to determine whether these devices are safe for you.
- Avoid tripod canes or quad canes (those with three or four-point bases). People with PD tend to have difficulty using these types of canes. They provide less stability, as all points don’t touch the ground at the same time.
- Get a walker with four wheels or more; these offer better stability and make turning easier.
- Special features such as large wheels, swivel casters and hand brakes provide 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: How to choose the right one
Eventually, usually in later stages of PD, a wheelchair may become a necessity. It is important to know what to look for in picking the right chair and who on your comprehensive care team can help assist you make this important 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 you have to make posture changes, have low blood pressure or you need to rest during the day.