How to Care for Parkinson's Disease patients during Lockdown?
Parkinson's disease is a neurological disorder that affects central nervous system. There is a chemical named dopamine in our brain which helps in regulation of different brain functions. Parkinson's disease occurs because the dopamine level reduces in the brain. Due to this various functions of body which are controlled by that area of brain get hampered. The major symptoms of Parkinson comprises of a triad of bradykinesia, tremors and rigidity.
Today, the entire world is facing quarantine and lockdown. This duration can be critical for elderly, patients and persons with disability. One of the population which is at high risk are Parkinson's disease patients. Due to lockdown, they are unable to get access to physiotherapy clinics and clinical out-patient departments. And hence their exercise schedule do get affected. So here I would like to describe some methods about how can these patients take care of their health during lockdown.
Thoracic Opening Exercises
Rigidity affects thoracic mobility severely. Hence maintaining thoracic mobility is very important. Rigidity leads to stooped posture in Parkinson's disease patients. Thus, thoracic opening exercises plays a vital role in maintaining posture. A few techniques and exercises to mention here:
- Thoracic rotations to reduce the stiffness
- End stretches are very important to achieve complete range of motion of thoracic rotation
- For thoracic opening keeping a vertical pillow behind the back to cause the stretch. Do this when lying on back and in sitting position.
- More than bending exercises, promote more of back extension exercises.
- Upper back extension exercises because upper back is the one which gets stooped earlier.
Upper thoracic extension
One of the classical and major symptoms in Parkinson's patients is tremors of fingers which are involuntary. Due to tremors, they are unable to grab the objects properly. When they try to hold something, it tends to fall off from their hands. Holding a tea cup, a food morsel or anything which is lighter, is difficult for them to hold in a controlled manner. Hence, it is always better to do some wrist and hand exercises. You can use multiple things at home such as a water bottle, a paper-punch machine, rubber band for hand exercises. Also, writing is one if the best exercises. These exercises helps in strengthening of forearm and hand muscles which are crucial for gripping and grasping.
Working on Daily Activities
Due to symptoms of Parkinson's disease, it becomes difficult for these patients to perform their activities of daily living. Balance issues while walking is one of the prime reasons which causes difficulty in walking and hence leads to fear of fall in them. Here are a few modifications you can do at home to perform your daily activities safely and with confidence:
- Exercises before everything! Never miss out your exercises specially during lockdown period. Exercises will help in prevention of worsening symptoms.
- If there is severe difficulty in walking, then make sure there are mats on the floor so as to avoid any injury.
- For elderly patients, it is better to have handrails in washroom. If not handrails then carry your stick along with you for a firm support.
- Controlled walking counts for a major part of your exercise.
- Practice walking on a single column of tiles without falling. Practice front walking, side walking and back walking.
While exercising and practicing different types of walking, please make sure you have someone with you to supervise.
The more you practice what you find difficult, eventually the difficulty vanishes!
Mental Health Care
The lockdown has been a difficult phase for everyone specially with respect to mental health. Psychometric changes like frustration, irritation, mood swings, sometimes depressive mood can occur in Parkinson's disease. On the top of that lockdown does not allow you to go out and get some fresh air, which leads to more irritation. So it is important to know how to take care of your mental health.
- Music has proven to be a therapy for mental health. Listening to music and singing keeps mind peaceful.
- Write your thoughts down.
- Keep your mind engaged by reading. Not by reading news about COVID each time but rather reading good things.
- Spending time with your family and closed ones.
Parkinson's disease will not worsen if you take enough care of physical and mental health. There many sites on google which provide free online consultation by doctors and physiotherapists during this quarantine period. You can also schedule an online appointment with your doctor through a video call incase of any difficulties. Stay safe and stay healthy.
This content is for informational purposes only and does not substitute for formal and individualized diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed medical professional. Do not stop or alter your current course of treatment. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2020 Natasha Tungare