As Parkinson’s disease (PD) progresses, “freezing” can become a safety challenge. Recognize when this Parkinson’s symptom may happen and what to do after to minimize injury.
What is freezing?
- Freezing is the temporary, involuntary inability to move.
- It can occur at any time. For example, your feet may seem to stick to the floor or you may be unable to get up from a chair.
- Some people are more likely to have freezing episodes than others.
- Freezing can occur when the person with PD is due for the next dose of dopaminergic medications. This is called “off” freezing. Usually, freezing episodes lessen after taking the medicine.
- The exact cause of freezing is unknown.
Freezing and falls
- About 38 percent of people living with PD fall each year. PD-related falls occur mostly when turning or changing directions and are often related to a freezing episode.
- Not everyone living with PD will experience freezing episodes, but those who do are at a much higher risk of falling.
- Freezing creates a danger of falling because the beginning and end of a freezing episode are unpredictable.
- The unpredictability of freezing, along with efforts by well-meaning companions to force the person with PD to move, may cause loss of balance and falls.
Tricks to help you get over a freezing episode
- Shift your body weight from one leg to another.
- Listen to rhythmic music and step with the beat.
- Step over an imaginary line in front of you.
- Use a mobile laser device that creates a line for you to step over.
View our factsheet on freezing here.