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Can Exercise Help The Freezing Gait of Parkinson’s Disease?

Surprisingly, people with Parkinson’s disease who have a freezing gait may benefit from exercise. Find out how and why.

Living with Parkinson’s disease is a challenge. One of the most disturbing symptoms that people with Parkinson’s disease are forced to deal with is a freezing gait. This condition usually occurs in more advanced stages of Parkinson’s disease and makes it difficult for patients to walk since their legs are “frozen” to the floor with difficulty moving their leg muscles in any direction.

This symptom of freezing gait is one of the most disturbing a Parkinson’s disease patient experience and can worsen the depression and sense of hopelessness some sufferer’s experience. Interestingly, a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that certain types of exercise may still be possible even for people with a freezing gait.

Researchers talk about the case of a Parkinson’s disease patient who experienced a freezing gait which makes him unable to walk. Surprisingly, he is still able to ride a bike fifteen miles each day on the open road with his wife – but as soon as he climbs off the bicycle he’s again unable to move his legs to walk.

Scientists are perplexed as to why a person with a freezing gait who’s unable to take even a few steps on the ground can get on a bicycle and ride fifteen miles every day. He doesn’t appear to be the exception either. Researchers in the Netherlands have identified twenty more Parkinson’s disease patients with a freezing gait who are able to ride a bicycle.

How can a person with a freezing gait still ride a bike? They believe that these patients may respond to different cues when they pedal a bike than when they walk – or that the movements associated with cycling are influenced by a different part of the brain that’s not affected by Parkinson’s disease. More research is needed to find out exactly why this is possible.

Researchers will be carrying out further studies to see what type of exercise might be best for people living with Parkinson’s disease who have a freezing gait. The ability to move around more freely could help patients be more functional and improve their mental outlook. Stay tuned for further developments – especially if you know someone who’s living with Parkinson’s disease.

References:

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/719978

Medscape.com website. “Cycling May Help Freezing of Gait in Parkinson’s Disease”.

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  2. Great insight and wonderful information.

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