The complexity of a movement disorder with its many symptoms can make it seem impossible to manage.
However, alongside medications, some additional non-medicinal approaches can be adopted when someone is experiencing difficulty. Below are some simple self-management strategies that can be used to help manage the symptomatic impact of a movement disorder on someone’s daily living and quality of life.
- Mentally rehearse a movement prior to attempting it
- Describe movements to yourself in an ‘internal dialogue’ to counteract shuffling
- Adopt a positive attitude, using “I will” statements as you prepare for a difficult action or task.
- After lying/sitting for a while, rise slowly and in stages to avoid feeling light-headed
- Before getting up, march your legs on the spot for a few paces to begin warming up the legs and start the walking action
- Rise from your seat carefully and pause to concentrate on feeling well-balanced before walking off
- Focus on one thing at a time, try not to talk while you walk
- Walk in arcs where you have room to avoid pivoting.
Staying mobile (anti-freeze)
- The weight shift method: STOP and shift your weight to one foot before attempting to step off and continue walking
- Auditory methods: If you freeze, try counting out aloud, “1, 2, 3, STEP”, in a clear and commanding tone to restart your movement methods: If it’s safe, your support person can put their foot in front of you and cue you to “Step over my foot”
- If your support person is not around, you can try visualising an obstacle (such as a log) and telling yourself to step over the obstacle.
In the community
- Pause and plan your routes in advance, have a look around for any possible barriers and identify a route to avoid these if possible.
- When reaching for an item, check the distance by finding a surface first
- When reading, use a plain coloured card to mark off an area being read, and sit at table while reading to keep pages’ stable
- Be sure to rest your eyes regularly by taking breaks and looking elsewhere rather that staring at one object or area.
- Don’t try to do too many things at once. Concentrate on things one at a time to avoid straining your attention
- If you freeze in bed, try to think BIG, reaching over with your arm before rolling.
Your Parkinson’s Nurse or General Practitioner can always assist with the self-management of movement disorders and offer further strategies to maintain positive quality of life.
For more information and guidance on occupational therapy support needs, please contact Christian in our client support team on 1800 644 189 or email us at [email protected].