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Maintaining balance in an unbalanced body

One morning, bright and early on vacation this past summer, I took a walk to downtown Carmel-by-the-Sea. It was my habit to walk to town every morning, and so I set off, walking stick in hand. As I stepped on the brick sidewalk, my left foot caught on the edge of a brick and down I went. One moment I was walking confidently and the next moment I was laying face down on the brick sidewalk.

 I was stunned. With relief I realized my two front teeth were intact (although it didn't occur to me at the time to wonder why my mouth was bleeding). I lay there for what seemed like a long time, but was probably only a minute or so. I wondered if some good Samaritan would come and help me, but no one did. It was too early for the shops to be open, so there were few people out and about.

 Once I gained control of my senses, I got up, and groped for a tissue to stop my bleeding lip. Then I limped the two blocks back to our rental house. My arm showed no swelling, but it was increasingly painful. So after a couple of hours I decided I should see a doctor. We set off for the emergency room. As it turned out, I did break my right arm (dominant and non-pd) at the elbow.

 I came home with my arm in a sling. I refused to let this stop my regular exercise routine. I continued to take my morning walks -- albeit carefully and mentally telling myself to "lift my left leg" as I walked. And once we returned home to Arizona, I was able to ride my trike even with my arm in a sling.

 My arm is healed now, and after several weeks of physical therapy, I have full range of motion again. I hope to never go through that again, and very consciously remember to tell myself to "lift my left foot" as I walk.


Many PWP experience falls

Studies indicate that the percentage of PWP who experience falls can run as high as 68 percent. The symptoms of PD increase our chances of falling: muscular stiffness, freezing, shuffling gait and balance impairment. And after a bad fall, PWP may end up being reluctant to leave home, for fear of falling again.
Parkinson Disease Foundation

Tips for maintaining balance

  • Don't carry a purse, but use a backpack so you have one hand free at all times
  • Never carry objects in both hands as this will interfere with your balance.
  • Consciously lift your feet off the ground while you are walking.
  • Don't wear rubber soled shoes that might "catch" on the floor
  • Use a walking stick or cane to help you keep your balance.
  • Consult with a physical therapist who can assess your walking and balance.

    from the Cleveland Clinic Foundation




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