01 March 2021 - Personal stories
Linzi Smith

Functional Integration for Parkinson’s

Jane was diagnosed with Parkinsons disease (PD) when she was 50 years old. She is now 68 years old.

She has had several falls during the covid lockdown and recently fell in her shower.

Jane was experiencing freezing of her movements especially when in a confined space like her shower

She has dystonia/involuntary movement of her left foot causing problems standing and stepping with her left leg.

Jane regularly attends weekly Awareness through Movement classes via zoom.

However, she also felt that a 121 Functional Integration lesson might be helpful to see if she could improve the standing on her left leg and her ability to step and place her left foot when walking.

Jane also wanted to be able Improve her cardiovascular fitness. She has always been very active but the PD symptoms were making this difficult for her. She didn’t feel confident to stride out with her walking especially since she had had recent falls.

When Jane walks it is noticeable that she has limited rotation of her trunk and her steps are short, especially stepping with her left leg. She finds turning difficult and tends to twist on her feet.

Jane has a very good upright posture which she has been able to maintain through the weekly Awareness through Movement classes.

She feels relatively confident walking in a straight line and in her house but when she gets outside in more challenging environments it becomes a lot more difficult for her.

She enjoys the experience of her feet being moved by a treadmill which helps her gain more automatic stepping. However, her left leg pulls into towards her other foot. She also has to hold on to the bars on each side as she doesn’t feel confident without.

The Functional Integration Lesson.

The predominant difficulties that Jane has are with the left side of her body and especially her left foot. Jane finds it difficult to include the left side of herself in movements.

The lesson took place mostly with Jane lying on her back.

This allowed Jane to become more aware of any areas of her body which she was ‘holding’ onto.

Time was taken to allow Jane to sense different parts of each legs and tune into the movements which were slowly becoming available to her

Jane holds her head stiffly and was initially unable to allow her head to be supported but gradually, giving her time to sense and adapt, she was able to do this.

Gentle rolling of her head allowing her eyes to be soft gradually settled the involuntary movements in her left foot. Rolling her head to the right was initially easier than to the left.

Movements of her rib cage then became more available to her and she was able to be helped to explore the interplay of the 2 sides of her body and so a feeling of being ‘more whole’.

Worked with visual orientation to the left and coordinating with head and eyes together and opposite with control.

Working with arms across body to facilitate thoracic spine rotation with head roll and without neck flexion. Same and opposite direction with her head.

Jane reported that walking was easier and she more able to gain longer strides without thinking about it.

Her left leg was able to be placed straight forwards and she could turn more easily picking her feet up.

She had a natural arm swing achieved through the movement of her rib cage.

After session Jane said her legs felt much lighter and calmer and it was a good feeling to not have the constant involuntary movement feeling in her left foot.

Jane discussed getting a treadmill to be able to continue the feeling she had in the session and to build her fitness.