Freezing

As Parkinson’s disease (PD) progresses, “freezing” can become a safety challenge.

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

  • March.
  • 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.

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