I have been going to physical therapy this month. I am in a program designed to help people with Parkinson’s retrain the brain to help us with balance and prevent falls. I think I am a slow learner. There are so many different aspects to it. how to turn, how to keep the feet from crossing over… or from bringing feet too close together. My therapist is constantly reminding me: ‘shoulders back’, ‘don’t drag your foot’, ‘look straight ahead’, ‘stand up straight’, ‘think big’. ‘take bigger steps’, ‘pick up your foot higher’, etc…
Yesterday was my tenth session, so they had me retake the test that I received at intake. They said I had improved some on my times, but I have a long way to go. They showed me a before treatment and after therapy for another patient, and my honest input was “He looks like he is walking wearing a wet diaper.” I am hoping, when I see my after therapy video, my gait isn’t quite as exaggerated as his was. In my ‘before treatment’ video I was putting one foot directly in front of the other and very awkward when turning around to walk back I have five more sessions scheduled in July… which should be the end of the BIG therapy program. I do not know if they will extend it into August. They send me home with exercises to do at home as well.
I liked the explanation for our loss of balance that I copied from a blog:
Difficulties with balance and walking are linked to the brain changes that take place with PD. For people who don’t have PD, balance is automatic, a reflex. But Parkinson’s Disease affects the basal ganglia (a part of the brain essential to balance). To compensate, the brain assigns another brain area — an area used for thinking — to take over. The thinking part of the brain, mainly the frontal cortex, can’t control balance automatically. The result: for many people with PD, balance becomes less automatic.
One thought on “Brain changes”
Interesting…. I am taking Cheryl to physical therapy also. These days she has a lot of balance issues and the physical therapist talked about this same thing of re-training the brain. I wonder how that works when she has lost large portions of her cognitive function. She does seem to walk better when she concentrates. — there’s an old joke about walking and chewing gum; Cheryl cannot walk and talk – which makes me sad. I will ask her – What do you want for lunch? and suddenly realize I am by myself as she stops the process an answer. 😦 By the by – the BIG program really helps if you keep it up.