Freezing (sometimes called motor block) is a sudden, brief inability
to start movement or to continue rhythmic, repeated movements, such as
finger-tapping, writing, or walking. Freezing most often affects walking, but
it also can affect speech, writing, and the person's ability to open and close
his or her eyes. It tends to develop later in the course of the disease.
Freezing can be very disabling when it affects the way a person
walks, causing the person to stop as though his or her feet suddenly have
become glued to the floor. It can result in falls that cause serious
injury, such as hip fracture. Freezing may occur at an open doorway (most
common), at a line on the floor, or in crowds. It may be more likely to occur
if the person is anxious or under stress.
Since you've recently been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, ask your doctor these questions at your next visit.
1. What stage is my illness in now?
2. How quickly do you think my disease will progress?
3. How will Parkinson's disease affect my work?
4. What physical changes can I expect? Will I be able to keep up the activities, hobbies, and sports I do now?
5. What treatments do you suggest now? Will that change as the disease progresses?
6. What are the side effects of medication?...
There are several tricks you can learn to
help you become "unfrozen" when a freezing episode occurs.
Step towards a specific target on the ground.
Some people use handheld laser pointers to create a
Place a cane or walking stick on the floor in front of you
(or have someone else do it) and then step over it.
Make your first
step a precise, stiff-legged, marching-type step, with a long stride.
These or other techniques may help you overcome freezing and get
moving again. Specially trained dogs and special devices are available that can
help you if freezing is a severe or frequent problem.
Apomorphine (Apokyn) is a fast-acting dopamine agonist that seems to
be helpful in treating freezing associated with Parkinson's disease.
Apomorphine can be injected under the skin when muscles become "frozen." Apokyn
can be taken with an antinausea drug to prevent side effects of severe nausea
Changing a person's levodopa dosage may improve freezing. But this
does not work in all cases.