Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects the movement of those with the disease. Unlike many diseases, Parkinson's can develop extremely slowly and gradually, often starting with symptoms as little as a twitch or tremor in just one hand. Another of the most common symptoms associated with Parkinson’s is the gradual stiffness of muscles and slowing of movement.
Parkinson’s affects nearly 10 million people worldwide, making it the second most common age-related neurological disease second to Alzheimer’s. Although Parkinson’s has no cure, there are marketed medications that may be able to regulate symptoms. Surgical intervention is also a form of symptom reduction in extreme cases.
Symptoms of Parkinson’s
Parkinson’s symptoms may vary from person to person, with early stages often going unnoticed because of the subtlety of the symptoms. Symptoms typically initially show up on one side of the body before affecting the entire body.
- Tremors - Tremors are an involuntary quivering movement, that usually originates in a hand, finger, arm or leg. One of the more common tremors that are developed by Parkinson’s patients is known as the “pill-rolling” tremor, where the affected person rubs their thumb and forefinger back-and-forth as if they are rolling a pill between their fingers. Tremors may eventually occur even when muscles are at rest.
- Slowed Movement (bradykinesia) - In the later stages of Parkinson’s, the affected person may start to see some mobility issues, making easy tasks become tedious time-consuming tasks. This mobility issue may take on the form of slowed walking, smaller steps and dragging of the feet as the affected person walks. Often when a patient begins to slow down, it is necessary for a Parkinson’s caregiver to become involved.
- Rigid Muscles - Another mobility issue that arises in Parkinson’s patients is the stiffening of the muscles, limiting the patient's range of motion. This can make simple tasks like getting in-and-out of a chair or bed extremely difficult.
- Impaired Balance and Posture - As a result of the stiffening of muscles and slowed movement, Parkinson’s patients often begin to have issues with their posture and their balance. This also proves to be a huge mobility issue, as the affected person will have trouble with a combination of slow movement, dragging of feet, rigid muscles and poor balance. Mobility chairs are a viable solution to giving the affected person limited mobility.
- Loss of Automatic Movement - While it is well known that many people affected by Parkinson’s disease exhibit physical impairments, it is less known that Parkinson’s patients may also lose control of unconscious functions. Examples of these unconscious functions would include actions such as blinking, smiling, or arm movement when walking.
- Speech and Writing Changes - Those affected by Parkinson’s disease often develop speech issues such as slurring words, speaking softly, hesitating mid-sentence as well as speaking monotone instead of using the voice inflections that they may have once used. Lastly, it may be hard for patients to write, with their writing becoming unusually small, or tremors in their hand messing up their writing.
The Five Stages of Parkinson’s
In the initial stages of Parkinson’s disease, a patient might experience the symptoms of tremors or shaking, slow movement and the dragging of a foot on just one side of the body. Generally, the symptoms affecting the patient will make the patient appear to be asymmetrical, as half of their body is experiencing symptoms and effects of the disease. This stage is often very subtle and most often goes unnoticed.
Stage two can begin anywhere from weeks to years after the initial stage of Parkinson’s Disease. In the second stage of Parkinson’s the initial symptoms exhibited on just one side of the body will spread to the other side of the body, now with the whole body experiencing the effects of the neurological disorder. This is generally also the stage where the patient will begin to lose muscle rigidity as well as developing a poor posture. This is the start of the loss of the patient’s full mobility.
In stage three Parkinson’s, the affected person begins to lose balance and the ability to make involuntary movements such as putting an arm out to prevent falling. Essentially, the patient now does not have the ability to catch themselves when falling. Ideally, before this stage, the affected individual should either have a caregiver, or some form of accessible mobility equipment such as a mobility chair.
Stage four marks the end of the patient’s independent life, and now a caregiver or a Parkinson’s care facility is absolutely necessary. While it is not debatable that the affected person needs help, and cannot individually live alone, it is important to remember that they may still be able to live in their own home while feeling some sense of independence. Products like our Tudor Assist mobility chair may help the patient feel some sense of independence, being able to swivel themselves around without help while still receiving the support and protection that they need.
Stage five of Parkinson’s disease starts when the patient is confined to a wheelchair for the rest of their life unless they are otherwise helped. At this stage in the disease, the patient is unable to stand without help due to the risk of falling because of balance impairment or freezing. That being said, there are more comfortable and more functional technologies that make caring for someone with Parkinson’s disease both easier for the caregiver and the patient.
Product Spotlight: The Titan Swivel REZ 22”
At HomeCARE furniture by ComforTek, we sell furniture that helps people with disabilities maintain their independence whether they are in-home or living in a Parkinson’s care facility. Our chairs are the perfect chairs for the kitchen, living room, or even the bedroom, and they have the features to move around the building without getting in that uncomfortable wheelchair. Any of our chairs like the Titan Swivel REZ 22” within the Next Chapter line have the capabilities of being wheeled from room to room with minimal effort from a caregiver.
What sets the Titan Swivel REZ 22” apart from the other chairs in our fantastic line of mobility chairs for people with disabilities is the swivel feature. We truly believe that we have the best swivel chair for mobility because it has three pre-set locking positions and a hand controlled lever so that those affected by Parkinson’s may still be able to operate the chair independently.
Our mobility chairs also have wide frames and bariatric supports, making it the most comfortable mobility chair for disabled or elderly people. So if you want to use this chair as a dining room chair for the elderly, a dining room chair for the disabled, a kitchen chair for seniors, or even a living room chair, the Titan Swivel REZ 22” is the chair for you! Make life easier for both yourself, the caretaker, and the patient, and visit our website today to find the perfect mobility chair for your needs!
And as always, please contact us if you have any questions or concerns regarding our products.
Thank you for tuning into our HomeCARE furniture by ComforTek blog this week. Next time join us for a discussion on Multiple Sclerosis, and how our mobility assist furniture could benefit those with MS.