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One safety challenge that some people with PD face, especially those in advanced stages or that have been on levodopa drug therapies for a long time is freezing. Freezing is the temporary involuntary inability to move. For example, your feet may seem to stick to the floor, or you may be unable to get up from a chair.

It's important to note that although not everyone with PD will experience freezing, it can happen to anyone with the disease, not just those who take levodopa. No one knows the exact cause of freezing, but it often happens when a person with Parkinson's is doing something and gets interrupted. For example, when they are walking and must make a turn or change in direction. If this happens to you, try to make your turns wider, and not in cramped spaces.

Another situation that can bring on freezing is being in crowded places, so avoiding these is ideal. Cluttered spaces can also be a challenge, so keeping your main living areas clean and tidy with enough room to move about is best. Some floor patterns may even cause freezing. Additionally, going through doorways can contribute to freezing issues which can oftentimes lead to falls.

Tips to Help Prevent Freezing:
  • Count your steps as you walk (try marching or thinking "left, right, left, right....")

  • Play some fast-paced music with a strong beat you can march with to keep you going. Keeping a smart phone device nearby with a play list of your favorites might help.

  • Rock in place or shift your weight from foot to foot to get moving again.

  • Have someone place their foot in front of you or visualize something you need to step over.

  • Try using a Laser Cane. This can project a bright red line across your path, which acts as a visual cue to help break freezing episodes and increase stride length.

  • Try covering your eyes. This can trick your brain and allow you to walk straight ahead with no problems.

  • You may choose to simply wait - after all, the freezing will pass.

  • If you are in a hurry you can slowly sink to your knees and crawl, but obviously this is only practical at home.

  • Walk very carefully backward or sideways.


Marie, Liane. What to Do About Freezing. Chapter 54. Pages 169-170. The Complete Guide for People with Parkinson's Disease and Their Loved Ones. Purdue University Press, 2022.​

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