60 posts tagged “Parkinson’s Disease”

Parkinson’s Freezing Triggers and Fall Prevention

Posted 6 months ago by

Gait freezing and falls are common among people with Parkinson’s disease (PD). Take a closer look at patients’ experiences, common triggers of freezing and tips that may help prevent falls.

What is known about freezing and falls?

Researchers and movement experts have been studying gait freezing in people with PD for several decades. The exact cause of freezing is unknown, but experts believe it’s caused by PD’s effects on parts of the brain that control motor movement, such as the basal ganglia or part of the right side of the brain.

Common triggers of gait freezing may include:

  • Crowded environments or tight spaces
  • Turning corners, going around furniture or objects, or changing direction
  • Entering doorways, crossing over thresholds (especially from outdoors to inside), or changes in flooring (for example, from tile or wood to carpet)
  • Distraction or multi-tasking, such as walking and talking or carrying objects
  • Anxiety (initial research shows that this common symptom in people with PD may play a role in freezing, but further studies are needed)

Some tips and tricks may help “thaw” episodes of freezing (but every person is different, so talk with a movement specialist or physical therapist about what might work for you):

  • Visual cues — Giving yourself a visual hint may help your brain (and feet) know where to step, according to movement disorder specialists at the University of Florida Health. Visual cues include lasers on canes and U-step walkers, placing lines of tape on the floor, and stepping over the foot of another person . Some Dutch researchers are even working on laser sneakers for people with PD.
  • Auditory cues — Listening to music, counting out loud (like “1, 2, 3… 1, 2, 3…”) or using a metronome (or metronome app) can give your brain and body a rhythm to step to (check out this blog post about how Pamela Quinn, a professional dancer with PD, uses auditory cues to walk).
  • Practicing pivoting or changing direction — Check out this video, for example.
  • Check out these additional fall prevention tips — take note of potential household hazards, such as electrical cords, throw rugs or clutter on the floor.
  • Talk with your doctor about any freezing or falls you’ve experienced.Besides freezing, other factors that may cause falls include delayed reaction time, rigidity, bradykinesia, poor balance and even dehydration.

Taking your medication on time and working with your doctor to reduce “off” times is also important in preventing freezing.

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A possible Parkinson’s disease/melanoma link? Time for a skin check

Posted 8 months ago by

Now that summer has passed, have you had your skin examined? Studies have shown that people with Parkinson’s disease (PD) may have an increased risk for melanoma, so skin screenings are extra-important. Take a look at recent research and get some tips on monitoring your moles and skin.

Studies show…

A 2017 Mayo Clinic study found that people with either PD or melanoma are four times as likely to receive a diagnosis of the other disease. The researchers say the PD drug levodopa (which some people believe may play a role in melanoma risk) is not likely a factor in the PD/melanoma connection, according to McKnight’s. They found that the majority of melanomas were diagnosed before the diagnosis or treatment of Parkinson’s disease, so taking levodopa doesn’t appear to be a risk factor.

Future research should focus on genes, immune responses and environmental exposures that could cause the relationship, the researchers say.

Know your “ABCDEs”

Check out the Skin Cancer Foundation’s “ABCDEs of Melanoma” (click here to see images of examples), and make an appointment right away if you spot any of these warning signs:

A = asymmetry. Malignant moles tend to have an odd shape.

B = border. The edges of an early melanoma may be uneven or “scalloped.”

C = color. Watch out for moles that are a spotty mix of colors (from tan to black, or even shades of red, white or blue).

D = diameter. Melanomas are usually larger in diameter than a pencil eraser (but may be smaller early on).

E = evolving. Keep an eye out for any changes in your moles, such as size, shape, color, elevation, or another trait, or new symptoms such as bleeding, itching or crusting.

Also, keep in mind these other risk factors for melanoma, according to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research:

  • Ultraviolet (UV) light exposure (psst: use sunscreen and protective clothing)
  • Caucasian race
  • Older age
  • Male
  • Family history of melanoma or personal history of melanoma or other skin cancers

The Fox Foundation is currently funding studies on the PD/melanoma connection, including one exploring the role of alpha-synuclein (a sticky protein) in both conditions, and others examining the genes or gene mutations involved in the two conditions. Learn more here.

On PatientsLikeMe

Some members report having both PD and melanoma. “I encourage everybody to go to a dermatologist, who has observed thousands of moles, on various skin types, and pay them to do a body scan,” says one member with PD and melanoma (fortunately, a biopsy showed his cancer had not spread). “Melanoma is not slow progressing like Parkinson’s.”

Has your doctor ever mentioned melanoma risk? Join PatientsLikeMe or log in to talk about Parkinson’s and melanoma in the PD forum.