Anyone living with Parkinson’s disease knows its challenges. Simply getting through one day takes its toll. The more this disease progresses, sufferers gradually lose the ability to perform everyday tasks like dressing, cooking, eating, and even walking without the help of a caregiver or a special medical device.
There isn’t a cure for Parkinson’s disease currently, but researchers and medical professionals are making great strides in learning everything there is to know about this disease.
Until there is a cure, the special medical devices available are instrumental in helping Parkinson’s patients get through each day.
What is Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disorder that affects the nervous system. This progressive disease is caused by the deterioration of nerve cells in the substantia nigra, the part of the brain that controls movement. As these cells deteriorate, they gradually stop producing dopamine, a chemical in the brain that acts as a neurotransmitter. According to Psychology Today, dopamine is “the feel-good neurotransmitter,” the chemical that sends messages to other neurons in the brain responsible for your mood, pleasure, emotions, and movement.
What Are the Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease?
Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease may start mild and gradually get worse. When the symptoms begin, you may notice them on one side of the body or the other. The side the symptoms start on is the side that displays the worse symptoms over time.
One of the most common symptoms of Parkinson’s is tremors. Tremors usually start in the hands or fingers. If Parkinson’s patients rub their thumb and index finger together, this is called a pill-rolling tremor. These hand tremors almost always occur when the hand is at rest, called resting tremors. Other symptoms include:
- Muscle stiffness and limited range of motion
- Slurred, slow, or quicken speech often in a monotone voice
- Difficulty writing
- Changes in posture like stooping over or slightly leaning forward when standing or walking
- Balance issues
- Bradykinesia or slow movements
- Problems with automatic movement called motor block or freezing
Motor block or freezing is dangerous and costly for Parkinson’s patients. The condition makes them unable to complete automatic or repeated movements like writing, speaking, blinking, or walking. It more often affects how the patient walks, increasing their risk of falling. For example, while walking, the Parkinson’s patient may freeze suddenly as if they just became paralyzed or unable to move. These sudden stops can cause the person to fall. Accidental falls can result in broken bones, or worse, a head injury, creating a whole new set of problems. Freezing doesn’t mean the patient has forgotten what to do; it means they can’t do what comes next. Stress, being in a crowd, lines on the floor, and walking through doorways are common reasons for freezing.
How a Rollator Walker Can Help Parkinson’s Patients
A Parkinson’s patient can take steps to overcome these symptoms and maintain an independent lifestyle. One of those steps includes following the doctor’s recommendations and taking the prescribed medications to increase dopamine levels in the brain.
Another essential step a Parkinson’s patient can take is to use a unique medical device called the U-Step Neuro. The U-Step Neuro is an innovative mobility device used to help people with Parkinson’s disease and other neurological conditions improve their gait and eliminate accidental falls while walking. This special rollator walker differs from other walking aids because it provides stability, maneuverability, and, most of all, control.
U-Step Neuro’s Stability – The U-Step Neuro stands apart from all other rollator walkers because of its patented U-shaped base. This base is welded solid, does not wiggle, and provides the user with a low center of gravity since it bears all of the weight. It’s ultra-stable and surrounds the user to prevent falling in all directions.
U-Step Neuro’s Maneuverability – The U-Step Neuro has seven wheels: two tiny rear safety wheels to prevent the walker from tipping backward, two larger casters with rolling resistance controls, and three swivel wheels in front, a spring-loaded swivel wheel in the middle, for easy maneuverability around corners and narrow spaces.
U-Step Neuro’s Control – The U-Step Neuro offers better control features than traditional rollator walkers. Users can:
- Control when the walker stops and go with its unique reverse braking system
- Make complete turns in small spaces
- Utilize the spring-loaded front wheels over rough terrains
- Control the walker’s speed
- Eliminate motor block or freezing for Parkinson’s patients
This unusual rollator walker is unlike all the others with its unique reverse braking system. Standard walkers use a hand braking system that controls when the walker stops, but the U-Step Neuro’s braking system gives the user control of when the walker starts. Pressing the brakes causes the walker to start moving, and releasing the brakes causes the walker to stop, giving the users complete movement control.
The U-Step Neuro takes up 29 inches when making a complete turn, allowing the users to turn completely around in tight spaces like hallways, grocery aisles, and narrow doorways. The swiveling wheel in the middle of the base and the other two on each side toward the front make it so easy to do. In contrast, standard walkers turning wheels are in the rear and sometimes cause the user to pick up the walker slightly to make a complete turn.
With ease, the spring-loaded front wheel enables the walker to roll over uneven sidewalks, carpets, wooden floors, and more. The U-Step Neuro user doesn’t have to lift the walker or go around these obstacles to avoid them.
By changing the walker’s rolling resistance, users control how fast or slow they want the walker to go. This ideal feature is standard on the U-Step Neuro. The small mechanism sets next to the rear wheel and is very easy to adjust.
The most innovative feature is the laser and sound cueing module. This cueing module helps Parkinson’s patients eliminate freezing and other users having problems with their gait. The laser places a bright red line on the floor to guide your steps, and the sound cue generates a beat to help you regulate your steps, increasing your stride and walking speed.
More pricey than other walkers, the U-Step Neuro’s features set it apart from traditional rollator models. Extra features include a comfortable, padded seat, and backrest. Additionally, the unit folds for easy transport.
Researchers are working hard to find a cure for Parkinson’s disease, and the symptoms make it difficult to function day by day. However, innovative developments like the U-Step Neuro offer Parkinson’s patients and those with other neurological conditions an opportunity to maintain an independent lifestyle.