Two older adult females talking to each other on a park bench in front of an apple tree.

Thoughts on Newton’s Laws and Parkinson’s

For those of you panicking about long-forgotten formulas, tests, slide rules, calculators, and flashbacks to “Intro to Calculus”, relax and sit back. We’re not going in that direction and we’re only covering a couple of Newton’s Laws: Newton's first law of motion and Newton's law of universal gravitation.

Trouble getting started

Newton's first law states that an object at rest will stay at rest, and an object in motion will stay in motion unless acted on by a net external force.

What is Parkinson’s correlation to “an object at rest”? The couch potato. If you’re one of the many who are doing nothing after diagnosis or are letting apathy direct your actions and can’t seem to get started with the rest of your life, here are some tips for actions to try:

  • Join your local Parkinson’s support group. You are not alone.
  • Explain your situation to your spouse, relatives, or friends and ask for help getting off your “stuck” spot.
  • Find a local Parkinson’s exercise group and start moving. Exercise is the single most important act you can take to slow the progression of your Parkinson’s symptoms.
  • Find a Parkinson’s buddy and commit to continuing your exercise. Committing actions to a friend or friends helps ensure follow-through.
  • Form a care team. Parkinson’s affects everyone differently and at different rates. One size of treatment does not fit all. Your symptoms, over time, may require special support.

If possible, seek treatment at a Parkinson’s Foundation Center of Excellence. There are 33 medical centers in the United States and an additional 14 centers worldwide. To be designated a Center of Excellence, a medical center must meet high research, clinical, and patient care criteria.

Changing your direction

What is Parkinson’s correlation to “an object in motion stays in motion”? If your answer to “how’s it going?” is “ same o or Fine”, then you probably need to think about speeding up your current direction or even changing it. 

What you were doing before Parkinson’s (BP) may not be sufficient going forward. Here are some tips about modifying direction:

  • Don’t let yourself become isolated. Maintain and even expand your circles of friends and activities involving others. Becoming isolated can exacerbate Parkinson’s symptoms.
  • If you are retired or have had to stop work due to Parkinson’s, find additional activities for brain stimulation. Maintaining or increasing brain fluidity can be a key to protecting neurons.
  • If Parkinson’s symptoms prevent you from continuing to participate in a hobby or activity, find new hobbies or modify your activities. An example: Parkinson’s causes you to no longer be able to pursue your goal of climbing the highest peaks in every state. Modify your goal to walking on groomed trails in every state.

When tremor and balance issues caused me to abandon making furniture. I went in a completely different direction and have been researching my ancestry. I’m up to 45,000 relatives but who’s counting?

Reducing the risk of falls

Newton's law of universal gravitation states that every particle attracts every other particle in the universe with a force that is directly proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between their centers.

What is Parkinson’s correlation to the “Law of Universal Gravitation”? Gravity Sucks. In your BP days, I’m sure you seldom thought about gravity and your body. With Parkinson’s, comes slowness (Bradykinesia), neuropathy, and balance issues. These symptoms equate to trip and fall risk.

Safety survey your immediate surroundings. There are many things to be done to make your home safer. Here are just a few tips for avoiding meetings with “Mr. Floor”:

  • Remove trip hazards such as throw rugs
  • Consider adding grab bars in your shower or bath to prevent slips and falls
  • Declutter hallways and stairs
  • Improve the lighting if normal pathways and stairs are dark
  • Avoid multitasking while walking. Concentrate on getting from point A to Point B and not speculating on what’s on at the movies.
  • Consider a cane, walking sticks, or hiking poles for, at a minimum, when you’re tired. One fall can make your life going forward shorter and more painful

The tips offered here are only a sampler. I challenge you to come up with many more. Next article: “String Theory and Parkinson’s". Warning: May involve some Quantum Mechanics

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