Shoes For Parkinson's Disease

Shoes For Parkinson’s Disease: A Guide To Mobility and Footwear

What are the challenges people with Parkinson's disease face with walking? 

Individuals with Parkinson's disease often face challenges related to walking, which is commonly affected by the motor symptoms associated with the condition. Some of the challenges people with Parkinson's disease may experience with walking include:

  • Bradykinesia (Slowness of Movement)

    Parkinson's disease can lead to a general slowness of movement, including a slower pace when walking. This can affect the person's ability to initiate and complete steps smoothly.

  • Stiffness (Rigidity)
    Muscle stiffness is a common symptom of Parkinson's, particularly in the legs. Rigidity can make it difficult for individuals to flex and extend their joints properly while walking, resulting in a shuffling gait.

  • Postural Instability

    Parkinson's disease can affect balance and postural control. Individuals may experience difficulty maintaining an upright posture while walking, leading to an increased risk of falls.

  • Freezing of Gait

    Freezing of gait is a phenomenon where a person temporarily feels as if their feet are glued to the floor, preventing them from taking the next step. This can occur suddenly and often happens when initiating movement or navigating through tight spaces.

  • Reduced Arm Swing

    Many individuals with Parkinson's disease exhibit reduced or absent arm swing while walking. This reduced arm movement can contribute to an unsteady gait and impact overall balance.

  • Difficulty Initiating Movement (Akinesia)

    Some individuals with Parkinson's disease may experience difficulty initiating the first step or starting to walk, a symptom known as akinesia. This can lead to hesitation and instability.

  • Festination

    Festination refers to a tendency to involuntarily speed up steps while walking. This can result in a forward-leaning posture and a rapid, shuffling gait, making it challenging to maintain a steady pace.

  • Impaired Coordination

    Parkinson's disease can affect coordination between different muscle groups, making it harder for individuals to execute smooth and coordinated movements while walking.

  • Medication Fluctuations

    The effectiveness of Parkinson's medications can fluctuate throughout the day, leading to periods of improved and worsened motor function. This can impact walking abilities depending on the timing of medication doses.

  • Cognitive Challenges

    Some individuals with Parkinson's disease may experience cognitive impairments that affect their ability to plan and execute complex movements, including walking.

Physical therapy, medications, and adaptive strategies can be employed to address some of these challenges and improve mobility in individuals with Parkinson's disease. Additionally, assistive devices such as canes or walkers may be recommended to enhance stability and reduce the risk of falls. Regular monitoring and adjustments in treatment plans by healthcare professionals are essential to managing these walking difficulties effectively.

What Are The Desgin Features People Should Look For In Shoes For Parkinson's Disease?

People with Parkinson's disease often face challenges related to balance, gait, and overall mobility. Choosing the right shoes can play a significant role in improving stability and reducing the risk of falls. Here are some design features that individuals with Parkinson's should look for when selecting shoes:

  • Sturdy and Supportive Construction

    Choose shoes with a sturdy and supportive construction to provide a stable base for walking. Look for shoes with a firm heel counter (the back part of the shoe that cups the heel) for better ankle support.

  • Non-Skid Soles

    Opt for shoes with non-skid or slip-resistant soles to minimize the risk of slipping and sliding, especially on smooth or slippery surfaces.

  • Wide Base and Low Heel

    Shoes with a wide base offer more stability. A low and broad heel can contribute to better balance and reduce the risk of tripping.

  • Adjustable Closures

    Shoes with adjustable closures, such as Velcro straps or laces, allow for a customized fit. This is beneficial for individuals who may have difficulty with fine motor skills.

  • Lightweight Materials

    Lightweight shoes can make it easier to lift and move the feet, reducing the effort required for walking.

  • Roomy Toe Box

    A roomy toe box helps prevent pressure on the toes and accommodates any swelling that may occur, providing comfort and reducing the risk of discomfort or injury.

  • Cushioning and Shock Absorption

    Look for shoes with adequate cushioning and shock absorption to reduce the impact on joints and improve overall comfort.

  • Easy to Put On and Take Off

    Shoes with a wide opening and a design that is easy to put on and take off can be particularly helpful for individuals with Parkinson's who may struggle with dexterity.

  • Seamless Interior

    A seamless interior minimizes the risk of irritation or friction, reducing the likelihood of blisters or pressure points.

  • Orthopedic Inserts or Custom Insoles

    Consider using orthopedic inserts or custom insoles to provide additional arch support and enhance comfort. These can be especially beneficial for addressing specific foot issues.

  • High Visibility

    Choose shoes with high-visibility features if walking outdoors, as this can enhance safety, especially during low-light conditions.

It's essential for individuals with Parkinson's disease to try on shoes and walk around in them before purchasing to ensure a proper fit and comfort. Consulting with a healthcare professional or a podiatrist can also provide personalized recommendations based on an individual's specific needs and foot characteristics.