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Freezing of Gait? Causes and 4 Effective Tips to Manage it

The secret for success? “Break the target/problem into smaller parts”. This has been used by cricketers such as MS Dhoni, eminent business and even great mathematicians. The fact of the matter is that when we run a complex program even on a computer, the CPU takes time to process it. It is the same with cricketers, with businessmen and great scientists. Rather than work on the entire programme and risk freezing, a step-by-step process is often easier on our minds (or processors) and on time too.

Let us take an example. Imagine that you click on the mouse or touchpad to scroll down to read this page (That is the input). Now ordinarily the CPU process this information and sends a message to the screen (the output device). The result is that you get to read the next line or paragraph. If there is a delay in the CPU processing this information for whatever reason – the screen freezes and you need to wait until the screen moves. The exact same thing happens to a Parkinson’s patient. For a Parkinson’s Disease patient, due to lack of signals from the brain, the patient does not get a cue on what to do – and hence he or she freezes.

freezing of gait, parkinson's disease

Depending on which part of the stride they are in and the social context – it can result in embarrassment to a fall. Fortunately, there has been a lot of scientific work behind this (Paula J. McCandless, 2015) , and there are a few ways by which this can be greatly reduced

  1. Do NOT fight the freeze – rather focus on other types of motion such as rotating your hands – this helps to make the freeze pass
  2. Physiotherapy specializing in Parkinson’s Disease can help with exercises which help to manage freezing episodes.
  3. While the response to the limbs may be frozen, a light cue helps. A laser light creates a line, which signals the individual to cross over. Thus, if the laser light moves along with the user, it acts as a guide. The user can overcome the freeze by following steps as guided by the light
  4. An audio cue, which can be in the form of a metronome or music with beats is another avenue for managing the freeze. The signal to the ears direct the user to walk at a particular speed, thus acting as a guide.

Coming back to the example above, there is a less likely chance of the computer/mobile freezing or slowing if all other applications are closed and focused on this one task at hand. For Parkinson’s patients who experience FOG (Freezing of gait), it is the same. It is about channeling all sources of input (eyes, ears, etc.) to that one task at hand.

Fortunately, there is a walker in India that helps us do just that: The U Step II Walker. Gifting a loved one who is suffering from Parkinson’s Disease or gait freezing the freedom to walk is probably the most cherished experience that they would get.

U Step Walker, freezing of gait

References

Paula J. McCandless, B. J. (2015, November 12). Effect of Three Cueing Devices for People with Parkinson’s disease with Gait Initiation Difficulties. Retrieved from NCBI: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4863931/