If you've ever experienced gait freezing in Parkinson's disease, you know it can catch you by surprise. “Freezing is the sudden and unpredictable inability to start moving or continue moving," says Rachel Dolhun, MD, one of our MDs on staff. "It can happen anywhere and at any time but walking through doorways and turning around are common triggers. Not only is this frustrating but it can lead to decreased mobility and falls.”
Our community shared strategies that they've used to get through freezing episodes.
1. March in place, or imagine or sing a military song.
2. Count out loud or in your head, or sing a rhythmic melody. If you feel yourself slowing down before a freezing episode, try humming a tune or thinking of a song in your head, then walking along with it.
3. Aim your next step at a specific spot on the floor. Try picturing a stick in your path that you're stepping over or towards, our community suggests. If there's a part of your home where you tend to freeze often, such as around a corner or in a doorway, place two strips of colored tape in the area to act as a visual cue.
4. Ask a family member or friend for help. Several commentors said a little bit of encouragement from someone nearby can help get them through an episode.
5. Try moving in a different direction, such as backwards or from side to side.
6. Bonus suggestion: Talk with your neurologist or movement disorder specialist about other ways to manage freezing. Your doctor may be able to refer you to a physical therapist who specializes in treating the gait problems and freezing associated with Parkinson's disease.