Parkinson’s Awareness Month

Senior man looking through binoculars on a hike

Five tips to maintain your mobility with Parkinson’s

At Pride Mobility, we often hear about how our mobility devices, like scooters and power wheelchairs, give people with Parkinson’s disease independence. Our products help people to keep on living full and fulfilled lives.

Parkinson’s is a degenerative disease with no cure, but there are plenty of ways to slow symptom progression and keep moving. For those with advanced symptoms, a power wheelchair or mobility scooter might be the only option. We’re proud of our work designing powerful mobility devices for people with Parkinson’s.

However, if we’re honest, we’d much rather see people with Parkinson’s moving about on their own. April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month, so to recognize and support those living with the disease, we turned to leading organizations including the Parkinson’s Foundation and the Michael J. Fox Foundation for some advice on how to maintain mobility.

1. Talk to your physical therapist

A logical start: have early and regular conversations with your physical therapist about how to maintain mobility with Parkinson’s. Together, you can settle on a safe and effective exercise program based on your current ability.

A good therapist can help you craft realistic goals and routines, encourage you when you feel overwhelmed and modify the plan as needed.

2. Get moving

A body in motion … well, you can probably finish the rest. It’s true! Experts say the best way to maintain mobility amid Parkinson’s is to keep moving to the best of your ability.

Get comfortable feeling uncomfortable. Every challenge could be an opportunity to learn how to adapt. There’s growth and victory in even the smallest achievements.

3. Find a buddy group

Your therapist may help you hook up with an exercise class geared toward people with neurological disease. Group settings offer camaraderie and encouragement. Similarly abled companions can talk about shared experiences and support each other in ways no one else can.

In addition, find a friend or family member who will be your regular movement buddy. Parkinson’s can leave you feeling isolated, which in turn can make symptoms worse. A routine, especially one built around a shared activity, can strengthen your sense of social connectedness and wellbeing.

Just remember: it’s reciprocal. If you want support and a sense of belonging from others, make sure you’re ready to offer it back to them!

4. Find a mobility assistance device that suits you

Parkinson’s patients often experience “freezing,” when they suddenly and momentarily lose motor functions. When that happens, you might need to rely on a cane or walker in order to prevent falling.

The Parkinson’s Foundation recommends a straight cane or walking stick as opposed to one with a multiple-point base. Tripod or quad canes provide less stability because not all feet touch the ground at the same time, according to the foundation.

If you need more stability, for example from a walker, choose one with swivel casters and hand brakes for easier maneuvering. Those without wheels can throw you off balance because they require repeated lifting, the foundation says.

5. Choose the right mobility scooter or power wheelchair

If you have a high level of mobility, a scooter can give you the independence to experience long days on the go, for example at family gatherings, sightseeing or going to the grandkids’ soccer games.

The Parkinson’s Foundation suggests first talking with your therapist, then considering options like a reclining backrest to make position changes easier. Accessories like a cane holder allow you to grab your walking aid easily before hopping off. 

For those with less mobility, a powered wheelchair might be a better option. They provide more comfort and support for those who plan to spend most of their time seated.

When Parkinson’s changes, change your strategy

There’s an unfortunate truth about Parkinson’s. Patients are likely to require more help moving around as time goes on. A 2018 study, published by the National Institutes of Health, found that over three years, patients with Parkinson’s increased their use of mobility devices or required more advanced devices.

A five-fold share of them felt that they had unmet mobility needs at the end of three years than at the beginning.

That’s why it’s important to prioritize your mobility during conversations with your doctor, therapist and caregivers. The more you discuss it, the better chance you have at devising plans that help you achieve your goals.

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