PARKINSON’S DISEASE

About the Condition

Parkinson’s disease is the destruction of nerve cells and depletion of dopamine, a chemical in the body responsible for smooth normal movements.

It can be caused due to a genetic predisposition or environmental factors like exposure to metal poisoning, viral infection or side effects to drugs.

People are living longer and so the incidence of Parkinson’s disease has increased as the disease is related to age.

By the time symptoms of Parkinson’s disease develop, half of the dopamine producing cells have in the body have already died.

Symptoms

Early symptoms include:

  • Frequent, unexplained falls.
  • Tremors (smaller, evident when person is writing).
  • Lethargy.

Later stages include:

  • Larger, more apparent tremors, typically involving an arm and a leg while they are at rest.
  • Rigidity of the muscles.
  • Pain in the back, neck, shoulders, temple or chest.
  • Bradykinesia – a slower pace of walking and less expressive facial expressions.
  • Lack of movement.

Other symptoms include:

  • Speech change (tone, inflection) – due to rigidity of chest muscles.
  • Difficulty swallowing.
  • Dementia.

  • Less blinking leading to dry eyes.
  • Sensory illusions.
  • Sleep disturbances.
  • Gait abnormalities – patients no longer walk in normal manner.

Useful tips for Patients & Caregivers

Work with an Occupational Therapist to learn new ways to perform daily activities independently.  If the person is tired, let them sleep.  Arrange activities to accommodate their change in sleep patterns as best as you can.

The following tips may help too:

  • Keep eye drops on hand.
  • Find ways to stimulate the patient intellectually.
  • Keep him or her involved with friends and family.
  • Encourage them to participate in activities that they enjoy for as long as possible.
  • Work with them to find new hobbies.
  • Be patient with doing things at a slower pace. Don’t try to rush the person.
  • Create a routine so as to make it easier for the person to remember day to day activities.

Click here to here Martina’s tips when seating patients with complex needs. 

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REAL PATIENT CASE STUDY

Brent was diagnosed with Parkinson’s at 43 years old.   “When I saw the chair being rolled off the van I broke down in tears – I just knew this was the one.” 

READ BRENT'S STORY

Selecting the Right Chair

It is very important that the chair is adjustable to allow it to meet the changing needs of the person as their condition changes.  Cognitive changes may reduce the patient’s ability to ‘learn’ new products and operations and so having a chair that will adjust easily and which you can add accessories to as needed will ensure continuity and familiarity.

The Sorrento and Phoenix in particular are designed to suit the needs of those with Parkinson’s disease.  These two Seating Matters chairs are highly adjustable and can provide support to all parts of the body, especially at the head, protecting the individual from head or neck injuries due to their uncontrolled tremors.  All accessories can be included at a later date if they are not needed at the initial assessment.  This allows the chair to meet changing needs over a long period of time.

For those who have good skin and a degree of mobility, the Monaco provides lateral support and pressure management cushions.

Both the Sorrento and Phoenix come in manual and powered options.  Manual adjustment leaves the control of the seating positions to the caregiver. Partially motorized options give the user of the chair more independent control to change the angle of tilt in space and their leg elevation as and when desired.  Fully motorized options give the user of the chair control to change the angle of tilt in space, their leg elevation and the back angle recline as and when desired.

Bear in mind, each person is different and so you must use clinical judgement, knowledge of the patient, environmental considerations and personal preferences before deciding on which Seating Matters chair to use.