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Victoria Epilepsy & Parkinson's Centre

Parkinson's Blog

Thoughts on Walking for Parkinson's Patients

I spent my early life fairly free of diseases and felonious behavior. But, one day five years ago I found myself in company with some rather distinguished people. Was my getting PD a punishment for my early life? Anyway, below is a sample of these distinguished people. Notice that I am not listed.

 

           Michael J. Fox        Actor

Mohammad Ali      Boxer, Social Commentator

Roger Bannister     Neurologist, first to run a 4-minute mile

Janet Reno             Attorney General of the U.S.A.

Linda Ronstadt       Singer

Johnny Cash           Singer

Sir John Betjeman   Poet Laureate of U.K.

Salvador Dali          Artist

Knowlton Nash    Journalist, Author

Adolf Hitler                   @^€%*£#+&$?

 

You can see even from this short list that Dr. Parkinson has spared no one because of high caste or accomplishment. There is no known cure for any of us, but there is help. I was delighted to find one form, not a drug but a walker (henceforth IT, meaning a stressed ‘it’ not ‘Information Technology.) Now, in spite of my alleged angelic behavior as a boy and young man, I found that I had the traditional male reluctance to use such a device, very likely to avoid the white cane problem, which tells those of limited mental perception that the cane user was defective, hence to be pitied or derided. It seems that this is what males under about age 65 fear.

 

I do not have some of the most common of PD symptoms, such as resting tremor, I do have stiff legs, the freezing problem and microscopic hand writing. The freezing comes on when I have sat down for a long time and sometimes even just from walking. One day, after a rough walk, I began to think differently about IT and I decided, or maybe it was my wife who decided, that I should try out that silly thing.

 

Step one is to find where one can get one; it turns out easily. Any large pharmacy might carry them and certainly the specialty stores that also sell canes, wheel chairs and motorized devices that can make you feel superior to the pedestrian who is getting rained on as you make your way through a crowd in a sheltered gadget. Just a reminder; IT is mechanical in the sense that it has wheels, handle bars to control direction, and brakes to make it stop. As you will soon see IT tries to help its user to keep walking, not find other ways to get around.

 

We went to several places to see what we could find. In the first we found only one model of IT but priced at $160, which was tempting. Although I had never seen one up close before, this one didn’t appeal. As we looked more, we found three successive places, one a drug store, two specialists in the various devices to offer those assistance to those with walking difficulty. All three sold the same model, among others, priced within about $10 of each other. The one we settled on cost just over $400. Did we do the right thing? Let’s see.

 

My wife and I took a walk we had taken many times, alone, together or with our late dog. It took about 30 minutes, walking through a small park along the inner harbour. The paths were fairly smooth. I began to notice in no more than ten minutes, that I was not feeling the negative effects I had so often felt before. Furthermore, the lack of effect lasted for long after we came back home. It was so again the next day. This is not a tale of miracles. Eventually, I hit enough rough spots, right here in Victoria, that I was brought back to realizing I had not participated in a miracle, but I had lost what I think was about 80-90% of my walking pain. Hey, I loved that dog but he couldn’t do this.

 

It won’t go that way for everyone. The price for a walker you like may be too high. The Red Cross might be able to help. They can lend such devices, free! But you must provide them with a doctor’s statement of need (not financial but medical). You may find the “ideal” looking device but find that no miracles come with it. Keep looking. There might be other sellers who can help more. Speaking of help, we found the sales people who handle these products to be pleasant and very helpful. None seemed trying to sell one regardless of it’s fit to you physically or your ability to handle it. These are not motorcycles or race cars but some may find them hard to work with. One key, at least for me, was that it made me stand up straight, no leaning over to check out the surface of the ground. I had not thought that I should tell the sales person that this bending over was a problem with me. I didn’t even realize myself that was the case. When PD came to visit me, I found it often necessary to look down, directly ahead of where I was walking, looking for hazards. My new IT cured me of this, returning me to my stature way back when I was a ram rod straight U.S. Marine. Ask for advice from the salesperson and also your physician or physiotherapist. All will be willing to help.
 

Good luck if a walker intrigues you. If not, dogs won’t help either but they sure are nice.

 

The following short text came from XXXX, the maker of the model we bought, one of their Evolution Series.

 

Evolution Series                 The Evolution Series, available in four sizes, features the strongest and one of the most stable walkers on the market today.

Every Evolution model uses 1-1/8” cold rolled steel tubing, the same material used in mountain bike fabrication. Strong 1” tubing is used on the handles, every fastener is stainless steel or plated against corrosion, and the frame is powder-coated with UV protection against fading. All plastic components are molded utilizing the toughest plastics capable of withstanding temperatures up to -40?C. The Evolution model offers unmatched stability for users suffering from neurological conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s, in addition to arthritic and stroke conditions and users with wide gates Evolution series also include the largest baskets available anywhere.

 

 

 

Posted by Charles T. Meadow on 3rd Jul 2014 11:36am