In Parkinson's disease, freezing (sometimes called motor block) is a sudden, brief inability
to start movement or to continue rhythmic, repeated movements, such as
finger-tapping, writing, or walking. Freezing most often affects walking, but
it also can affect speech, writing, and the person's ability to open and close
his or her eyes. It tends to develop later in the course of the disease.
Freezing can be very disabling when it affects the way a person
walks, causing the person to stop as though his or her feet suddenly have
become glued to the floor. It can result in falls that cause serious
injury, such as hip fracture. Freezing may occur at an open doorway (most
common), at a line on the floor, or in crowds. It may be more likely to occur
if the person is anxious or under stress.
There are several tricks you can learn to
help you become "unfrozen" when a freezing episode occurs.
These or other techniques may help you overcome freezing and get
moving again. Specially trained dogs and special devices are available that can
help you if freezing is a severe or frequent problem.
Apomorphine (Apokyn) is a fast-acting dopamine agonist that seems to
be helpful in treating freezing associated with Parkinson's disease.
Apomorphine can be injected under the skin when muscles become "frozen." This medicine is best taken with an antinausea drug to prevent side effects of severe nausea
Changing a person's levodopa dosage may improve freezing. But this
does not work in all cases.
December 5, 2012
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
& G. Frederick Wooten, MD - Neurology
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