Before we proceed to our main point, let’s discuss a little bit about Parkinson’s Disease (PD). Basically it’s a progressive brain disease. It occur when part of our brain known as substantia nigra loses it neurons for some reason. This lead to decrease dopamine stimulation to substantia nigra and caused over stimulation of acetylcholine, resulting in excess muscle tone. There are three major signs to look for when diagnosing patient with Parkinson’s disease:
1) Resting tremor– even when they resting ie. Lying in the bed, their hands are shaking.
2) Rigidity– in other word, the limbs (mostly upper limb) become stiff and hard to move.
3) Bradykinesia– the patient have slow movement.
There are many more but you can find it yourself if you interested. Now, let’s talk about the main topic here. For the Parkinson’s Disease people (I would referred them as patient), life can be hard, very hard if without support. We, as a normal human being can help them become independent by doing some alterations to their environment. Here are some few example of assertive device for PD patient:
Let’s start with cooking tools. for starter, a rocker knife would be mostly suitable for them. PD patient have trembling movement, so they need a good grip to hold things. Plus, the round blade would not be able to harm them so much as the normal blade. The usage of electrical model of cooking material would be a nice add. For example, electrical can opener or fruit peeler will certainly help them cooking by themselves.
Dining utensils are most important when feeding. This is universal I think. A straw and a mug with lid. DONE!! A nonskid mat should be put under a plate to avoid from spilling over the floor. The patient does have a shaking hand ,right?? For eating, an oversized or angle handle spoon would be mostly appropriate. For a shaking hand and a slow movement AND stiffness, the patient would need an easy way to eat rather than using a tube.
Next, the bathroom equipment. A chair for showering, grab bars and non-slid mat are a MUST for PD patient. They have a stooped posture when walking, wide base when standing and have a shuffling walk (yes, similar to the dancing). So, stability is a major issue here when involving bathroom. All of these equipment are to avoid patient from slipping and fell down to the floor. Relatives should install electric shower or hands-free hair dryer as the patient can’t do a twisting movement and doesn’t have a firm grip toward some things such as the shower knob.
Dressing materials are very important too. Zipper or button hooks should do the job nicely. This is my first time hearing button hooks and it looks pretty handy and cool at the same time. Shoe with no laces. Yup, even I wore one. Convenient, fast and suitable for a tremor people. When at home, the patient should be provided traditional slipper or sock with non-slip sole. Shuffling walk is pretty dangerous if the floor is slippery.
Next up, the bedroom. Relatives should install an assist bars (same as in the bathroom) to ease the patient when they wake up. A motion-activated lights. This is advance and kinda cool. Also, it’s surely helps the patient with great ease.
Writing tools are very customizable when it comes to adaptation. Patient should by a pen-grip rubber or a pen with rubber grip. This should give a good grip for those who have weak grip especially in PD patient. I found out that the usage of ballpoint pen are much easier to control then the regular one. I’m not sure but if it does help to ease the patient, you should give a try.
There are PD patient who apparently a computer geek or using computer for working. If using keyboard are progressively difficult, patient can use key-guard. The guard isolated each key, so that it’s easy to pinpoint. Mouse should be replaced by a joystick or a trackball.
PD patient will have a diminished voice due to weakness in vocal cord and its surrounding muscles. Try using a voice amplifiers to speak with people, especially in a room with high noises. If the patient wishes to talk in a phone, the recipient’s telephone should be installed with telephone amplifier to increase to voice’s sound. Technically, it’s used for hearing problem, but the mechanism is still pretty much the same.
For an early stage of PD, the patient can still walk although it’s slow and somehow in stooped posture. Relatives should buy a cane or wheeled walker for walking aid. It will make them easy at least walking around the house and managing themselves.
Last but not least, PD patient just like other sick person, will have trouble in organizing things especially the medications. There are several suggestions to adapt for that. The medications should be put in a pillbox with day-compartment. There are seven days, so there should be seven compartments. Calendar function in smartphone or the normal calendar should be put into a good use. Marking the appointment date with doctor is important. Put a simple memo on things that you should or would do. Just to keep things organized and neat.
all of the adaptation only work on the early stages of the Parkinson’s Disease patient. but it should ease your burden and them too. I hope this is informative for you and somehow help everyone managing their PD relatives. until next time, see ya..XDXD
p.s: I used this as reference.
- Emotions in Parkinson’s disease (eurekalert.org)
- Parkinson Disease (owensover.wordpress.com)
- Exercise Improves Depression in People with Parkinson’s (livescience.com)
- Deep Brain Stimulation Helps Parkinson’s Patients Drive (counselheal.com)