Freezing in Parkinson's Disease
Terry Ellis, PhD, PT, NCS, Director
Tami DeAngelis, PT, GCS, Coordinator
About one third of people with Parkinson's disease experience freezing episodes. Freezing episodes are sudden, short, transient blocks of movement that occur primarily with initiating walking, turning, navigating through narrow spaces or approaching obstacles. Freezing can last just a few seconds or up to several minutes. Freezing can limit household and community mobility, increase risk of falling and contributes to reduced socialization and quality of life.
Ten Tips to put the Freeze on Freezing!
- Try another movement – raise an arm, touch your head, point to the ceiling; then re-start
- Change direction: if you can't move forward, try stepping sideways and then go forward
- Carry a laser pointer in your pocket; when you freeze – shine the laser in front of your foot and step on the light – this cue can help you re-start.
- Visualize an object on the ground in front of you and try to step over it.
- Wear a metronome on your belt or carry a small one in your pocket – turn it on and the external beat can help you re-start.
- Try humming a song and time your re-start with the beat of the music
- Count "1-2-3-go" and then step forward
- Weight shift side to side to help initiate taking a step
- March in place a few times and then step forward
- Don't fight the freeze by trying harder to step forward – shift your attention from moving the legs to moving the arms – then resume walking forward.