Category: Parkinson

Metronome Therapy for People with Parkinson’s

Published on December 21, 2022

What is Metronome Therapy and how does it work?

In a healthy brain, the pathways that cue movement are sending messages to your body saying “step, step, step”. In Parkinson’s, this pathway might be hampered or damaged. With metronome therapy, we are using a ‘beat’, specific to your walk, to help you take each step.

How is the Beats Medical walking therapy different to a normal metronome?

Metronome therapy, or walking to a specific beat, has been used in the treatment of Parkinson’s for 50 years. The Beats Medical app allows you to get a uniquely tailored beat each day at home, it would not be feasible to visit a hospital or clinic every single day.

Why would the beat need to change every day?

As no two people with Parkinson’s are the same, and symptoms can change from day to day, the treatment changes each day to suit you. There are no good or bad scores; your beat can vary depending on how you’re walking that day.

How do I use the Beats Medical walking therapy?

1. Open the beats Medical application, open the walking therapy and start the calibration period.

2. Put your device in your front, trouser pocket and walk, uninterrupted, for 2 minutes, until you hear a loud sound, marking the end of calibration.

3. Take the device from your pocket to view your individually prescribed beat. Set the timer and start the therapy.

4. Place the phone back in your front trouser pocket and step your feet in time with the beat.

5. Once you have practiced walking in time to the beat, the Beats Medical support team will introduce additional elements for you to focus on. This can include heel strike, arm swing, posture and turns.

What will this do for me?

This can help you to improve your mobility, stride length, speed and the quality of your walk.

Is it proven to work/ to be safe?

All of the treatments we provide are evidence based. There is over 50 years of research demonstrating the effectiveness of ‘auditory cueing’ for people with Parkinson’s. To read more, this research paper examined metronome therapy in detail, published in the renowned ‘Nature’ journal in January 2018.

Things to do when newly diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease

Published on December 20, 2022

If you have been recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, you are not alone. Today many people with Parkinson’s are looking beyond their doctors alone to keep themselves well. We are here to help empower you by giving you the tools and information you need to lead a healthier, more independent life. Starting today you have the power to make a positive change in your life.

1. Don’t Panic

No matter what stage of life you are at when you receive a diagnosis, it is a challenging time. It may come as a shock to you, or it may be something you have been suspecting. Either way, it is important not to panic. Remember that you are not alone and that there is a lot of people you can turn to for support.

2. Ask your Neurologist

After receiving a diagnosis of Parkinson’s, it is normal to have a lot of questions about it. It is important that you ask your neurologist any questions that you may have so that you can better understand your condition. It is helpful to write down a list of your questions to bring with you to your neurologist appointment. Understandably, it may be an emotional time for you, and having a list written down can help you to stay focused on getting the answers that you need.

3. Find a support group

Having a strong support network will be a huge help throughout your Parkinson’s journey. Even though your symptoms may be subtle in the beginning, opening up to people and building a support network can be hugely beneficial for your wellbeing. Joining a support group can be a great way to open up about your Parkinson’s to others who understand what you are going through. It is also a great way to hear helpful tips from people who have experienced difficulties similar to you. Research if there is a support group in your local area, and if there isn’t, you could always set one up!

4. Gather information

Try to learn as much as you can about your condition. However, be careful where you get your information from. Be sure to get information from reliable sources. The best place to start is to ask your neurologist or GP where to go for accurate information. You can also find useful information on websites of official Parkinson’s organisations, such as Parkinson’s UK. Just remember, everyone’s experience with Parkinson’s will be different, – don’t believe everything you read on the internet!

Dancing Through Parkinson’s

Published on December 20, 2022

Research has shown how helpful dancing is for mobility in those diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Maintaining independence and freedom is a huge concern for anyone who is diagnosed with a neurological disorder. Fears surrounding your diagnosis might cause you to become withdrawn both physically and emotionally.

The main thing to remember when you are looking to improve and maintain your mobility is to EXERCISE.

Dancing is a great form of exercise. Not only does it keep you fit, but it also involves a lot of techniques that are specifically helpful for Parkinson’s symptoms. These techniques include auditory cues from the music, practicing changing direction and turning, balance practice, and memory work.

Dance also provides a platform for expressing yourself both physically and emotionally. It provides a creative outlet to express yourself with no words or explanations, just movement.

Not only is dance a great form of exercise and expression, but it is also a lot of fun! It is a great opportunity to let go of your daily stresses with a group of people and just enjoy yourself. In fact, recent research has found that dance has similar effects on motor and fitness outcomes as normal strength and balance training in people with Parkinson’s, and it has been shown to be more enjoyable based on patient feedback!

Don’t know where to start? Take a quick search on Google, as many local Parkinson’s groups provide dance classes specifically for those who have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s. If this isn’t the case with your specific area, reach out to a local dance instructor and see if there is a course where you would be able to participate.

The Invisible Condition

Published on December 20, 2022

It is commonly said that no two people with Parkinson’s are the same, as the symptoms one person experiences can be quite different from those experienced by another person with the condition. Parkinson’s affects people differently, and how symptoms present can change from day to day.

The symptom which most people associate with Parkinson’s is tremor. However, there are both motor and non-motor symptoms which can be a part of life with Parkinson’s. Not everyone will experience all of these symptoms, while some people with Parkinson’s might never experience such symptoms.

This varied range of symptoms is what makes Parkinson’s such a complex condition. In this blog we look at some ways to manage some of the motor and non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s.

Motor symptoms:

Gait – Many people with Parkinson’s may experience a change in their walking over time. Common issues such as rigidity, stiffness, slowness of movement, and shortened, shuffling steps impact on the quality of walking. The Beats Medical Parkinson’s Treatment Service helps to work on improving the quality of walking, among other things. You can read more here: beatsmedical.com/parkinsons

Freezing – Some people with Parkinson’s may, from time to time, experience ‘freezing’. This is when the signal from the brain to the legs is impaired, resulting in your feet getting ‘stuck’ on the spot as if your feet are frozen. This can be an uncomfortable experience. Metronome therapy, like the tailored beat in the Beats Medical app, can help to overcome this symptom.

Non-motor symptoms:

Speech – for some people with Parkinson’s, vocal strength and clarity of speech can be affected over time.

Dexterity – Similarly, some people with Parkinson’s may sometimes find things like handwriting, buttons, and zippers a little difficult. The Beats Medical app has exercises, based on Allied Health Therapy, tom help with these speech and dexterity symptoms. You can read a review of the service here: parkinsons.org.uk/information-and-support/beats-medical

Sleep – Some people with Parkinson’s can experience issues with sleep. Disrupted sleep patterns can have an impact over time. Try not to worry too much about sleep, take frequent rests when you can, and if it becomes a persistent issue, speak to your Parkinson’s specialist.

Digestion – Sometimes, Parkinson’s can impact on the digestive system, creating issues such as constipation. Therefore, it is important to try maintain a balanced diet, and if you experience issues, link in with your GP or Parkinson’s specialist who will be able to advise you.

Love & Support

Published on December 20, 2022

Has a loved one recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s? Here are five ways that you can help your loved one adjust.

Communication is key for those who have recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Anxiety and depression are very common for people with Parkinson’s and it is important that you do not let your loved one shut themself out from the rest of the world. Life isn’t over because of their diagnosis, but it will be different.

Patience and Understanding are important as your loved one adjusts to their new reality. It may take your loved one considerable time to come to terms with their diagnosis. They may not want to listen to advice straight away. Take the time to listen to their concerns and offer them support and encouragement.

Self-care is equally as important. Although you might not be the one with Parkinson’s disease – your life is going to be impacted as well. Make sure that you are taking the time to take care of your own needs and feelings regarding this life-changing occurrence.

Regular exercise has been shown to help alleviate symptoms for those who suffer from Parkinson’s. There may be times when your loved one is unmotivated, which is when they will most need you to help push them to maintain a regular exercise regiment.

Educate yourself about the disease. The best way to help your loved one is to arm yourself with knowledge and be prepared for any and all possibilities.

Meditation and Mindfulness

Published on December 20, 2022

Mindfulness can reduce depressive symptoms, increased focus, and better moods. Some people with Parkinson’s use of mindfulness and meditation to help manage their symptoms.

Mindfulness offers benefits for the mind. It is a state of active consciousness that helps us observe, acknowledge, and accept feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations without judgment. Mindfulness interventions have shown to boost cognitive agility and adaptive responses to stressful situations.

Meditation can be recognised as a type of mindfulness that reduces stress and promotes tranquility. Meditation can consist of sitting quietly while holding a peaceful thought, doing focused breathing techniques and mindful movement (yoga), listening to peaceful music, following a guided meditation, repeating a mantra, joining a meditation group, as well as other methods.

This opens the question, can mindfulness and meditation help people with Parkinson’s manage their condition?

Parkinson’s is known to cause motor symptoms such as changes in gait and dexterity, but it can also lead to non-motor symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and sleep problems. As mindfulness and meditation are used as relaxation techniques to help relieve stress, improve focus, combat depression and enhance sleep they can be used as tools to relieve these symptoms that can be commonly linked to Parkinson’s.

Scientific reports indicate a positive link between meditation and Parkinson’s, showing that it can be a complementary therapy to help people with Parkinson’s manage their symptoms.

Here are some simple tips for practicing meditation and becoming more mindful:

  • Take 5 minutes in the morning to focus on your breathing
  • Focus on the moment
  • Join a yoga class
  • Keep a daily journal
  • Practice gratitude – what are you thankful for?
  • Use a meditation video from YouTube, lie down, close your eyes, and listen
  • Be conscious of your thoughts
  • Try the Parkinson’s UK Mindfulness Toolkit

These are simple activities that do not take long, just a few minutes each day could help to improve general wellbeing.

Beats Medical Timeline

Published on December 20, 2022

A look into the history of Beats Medical, the achievements we have hit along our journey to provide clinically proven allied health therapies, at home via smartphones, putting people with neurological conditions at the center of their own care, giving them the tools to manage their symptoms independently and with confidence.

2012 – Beats Medical was founded in 2012 by Dr. Ciara Clancy and Dr. Wui-Mei Chew. While working as a physiotherapist, Dr. Clancy recognized the enormous potential allied health therapy could have on the everyday lives of people with Parkinson’s. However, Dr. Clancy realized that one-to-one, there was only so much a physiotherapist could do. So, joining up with Dr. Wui-Mei, who specializes in intermolecular medicine, Beats Medical was created to bring these previously inaccessible therapies out of the hospital setting and into the homes of the more than 10 million people with Parkinson’s around the world.

2015 – After years of extensive research, investigating over 50 years of clinical research, the Beats Medical Parkinson’s service was launched. Initially offering just metronome therapy (a daily, tailored beat to help to practice and improving the quality of walking) the Beats Medical service was rapidly adopted.

2016 – In early 2016, having received detailed feedback from users of the service, Beats Medical launched additional therapies for some of the common speech and dexterity symptoms of Parkinson’s. These additional therapies, based on commonly used treatments, help people with Parkinson’s to practice speaking louder and clearer or to practice the fine hand movements needed for everyday tasks like handwriting, working zippers, fastening buttons, and taking medication out of its packaging.

2017 – The Beats Medical Parkinson’s Service technology achieved classification as a Class 1 medical device. Our patent and CE marks were also both issued. This means that we have been regulated as a safe medical technology for people with Parkinson’s, and is a badge of merit which distinguishes clinically proven therapies from other basic apps.

2018 – The Beats Medical Parkinson’s Service has grown from strength to strength. We now support people with Parkinson’s in over 40 countries around the world daily. In July of 2018, Beats Medical expanded its product offering with a new space-themed, gamified app for children who have Dyspraxia/ Developmental Coordination Disorder.

2019 – In a really exciting development, the Beats Medical Parkinson’s Service has become the first Parkinson’s-specific technology to feature in the Parkinson’s UK app and device library. The library is a collection of approved and tested technologies that have been deemed safe and useful by a panel of independent tests and users with Parkinson’s.

Muscle Cramps with Parkinson’s

Published on December 20, 2022

People with Parkinson’s Disease commonly experience muscle cramps that are painful and debilitating. Muscle cramps can be brought on by inactivity, too much activity, dehydration, or in many cases just at random! People with Parkinson’s may also experience a cramping sensation because of a condition called Dystonia, which can frequently present with Parkinson’s. Dystonia causes involuntary and prolonged contraction of muscles, causing them to spasm. This can happen as a result of certain medications, in particular when medication is wearing off.

Here are some helpful tips on how to ease the symptoms of cramping:

1. Stretching

Regular stretching can help to prevent a cramp or ease a cramp that is occurring. It is particularly important to stretch before and after exercising. The most common muscles that cramp in people with Parkinson’s are generally in the legs and feet. Here is a useful stretch you can try if you experience cramping in these areas. Stretches should be held for 30 seconds.

2. Massage

Massage can help to ease muscle tension during a muscle cramp. 

3. Heat

Heat pads can be applied to the area where you are experiencing a cramp.

4. Keep a diary

It is useful to keep a diary of when you experience muscle cramps. Note what you were doing at the time and what time of day it is. If you notice a pattern in your cramps, you may be able to determine the cause of them better.

5. Medication Adjustment

If you notice that your cramping comes on at a particular time each day, for example when your medication is wearing off, you may need to speak to your doctor or neurologist about adjusting the time at which you take your medication. However, do not change this without asking your GP or neurologist first! Always follow a doctor’s advice about medication!

Technology for Parkinson’s

Published on December 20, 2022

There are a wide variety of technology options out there to help make day to day activities easier for people with Parkinson’s.

From apps and software to devices and living aids, there’s a lot of options available. In this blog, we’ll look at some interesting technologies and give some tips on how to make technology more accessible for those who may be less tech-savvy.

Interesting Technology:

Emma Watch – As part of the BBC documentary series, “Big Life Fix”, Microsoft was brought on board to design and create a prototype watch to help graphic designer Emma with her tremor. While only in a research stage, the watch helped Emma, who was diagnosed with Young-onset Parkinson’s at the age of 29, to manage her tremor and to continue her passion for graphic design. You can see more here: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/research/project/project-emma/

GyroGlove:

Another interesting technology in the research phase is the GyroGlove, a glove designed to be worn by people with Parkinson’s to reduce the effect of hand tremors throughout the day. This technology could obviously have a huge impact on the everyday lives of people with Parkinson’s. At this time, the glove is still being tested.

Beats Medical Parkinson’s Service:

The only Parkinson’s app and service to provide clinically proven allied health therapy. The Beats Medical app helps with some of the walking, speech, and hand movement symptoms many people with Parkinson’s experience. Best known for providing “metronome therapy”, a beat you practice walking to which changes every day based on your symptoms, the Beats Medical app can help get you walking at your best. Find out more here: beatsmedical.com/parkinsons

Top Technology Tips:

iPad’s are a great tool for those not familiar with technology, or who experience difficulty with tremor and fine hand movements. An easy-grip case or cover for the iPad also makes sense.

For those with tremors, adjusting some of the settings on your iPhone or iPad makes things a little easier. Just go to the Settings app on your device and look for “Accessibility”. Here you can adjust text and button sizes, as well as tweak the touch screen controls so that multiple accidental taps on the screen don’t count.

When setting up accounts, usernames, and passwords for apps, emails, and profiles, remember to try keep things simple and easy to remember. You can create a secure password that is memorable and easy to type for a person who has tremors or is not too comfortable with technology.

Assistive Aids and Devices for Parkinson’s

Published on December 20, 2022

For many people with Parkinson’s, daily activities can become more and more difficult as the condition progresses. Despite medication and therapy, there may still be some daily activities that you find difficult to do. There are many devices out there that can assist with difficult tasks so that you can maintain your safety and independence throughout the day.

1. Mobility Aids

Mobility aids are great for improving your balance if you feel unsteady on your feet. There are a number of different types of mobility aids available. A physiotherapist can help you choose an appropriate one depending on your specific needs. Examples include walking poles, walking sticks, and rollators. Some people only use them outdoors or over long distances.

2. Handrails

Handrails can be very useful for keeping your balance while moving around the house. These are often placed in the bathroom to assist people with standing up from the toilet or getting in and out of the bath or shower. Bathrooms can be particularly hazardous because of the slippery floors. It may also be beneficial to place handrails on both sides of the stairs or in the hallway.

3. Laser Canes

A laser cane or walker is specifically designed for people with Parkinson’s who experience freezing. A laser is attached to the cane or walker and it will shine a red line on the ground in front of you to step over. This can help you overcome freezing episodes when out walking.

4. Dressing

Choosing velcro shoes instead of laces can make it much easier to put on your shoes. Weighted button aids or button hooks can help with closing and opening buttons, and zipper rings can be attached to the small handles on zippers to make them easier to grasp and pull down or up.

5. Grooming

Electric toothbrushes and electric razors can lessen the workload of brushing your teeth or shaving. Shower or bath chairs can be helpful if you have reduced balance.

6. Eating

Travel mugs or flasks and plates with raised edges are useful for avoiding spillages. There are a number of brands that have designed cutlery specifically for people with tremors, such as ‘The Liftware Utensil’. Utensils with larger and weighted handles are generally better for anyone with a tremor as they are easier to grip.