Four years ago, I was told by a doctor that I have Parkinson’s disease. It was quite a blow. So far, Parkinson’s disease has affected mostly my ability to walk. There are times when I can’t move my legs at all. They are temporarily paralyzed. There are times when mainly my left leg won’t move. There are times when my left leg is so weak that I can’t stand on it.
To help me with mobility, I take five Carb/Levo tablets 50-to-200 milligram daily. I take one tablet every five hours. I also do a series of leg exercises to help me get going on mornings when I wake up and I can’t get out of bed. When this situation happens, my physical therapist Kevin Linde and I have developed a variety of leg exercises to get my legs moving. They are:
My first exercise is to lie on my back and bring my right leg back to where it touches my buttocks. I hold it there for three seconds and then I bring my left leg back to where it touches my buttocks. I hold it there for three seconds. Then I move both legs until they are resting flat on the bed. I do this exercise 15-to-20 times with both legs. Usually, I start having a little movement in both legs when I stop this exercise. If I do not feel any movement in either leg, I repeat the exercise until I feel some movement.
My next exercise is to raise each leg as high as I can and then lower them until they are resting flat on the bed. I do this exercise 15 times each. Here again, I can feel the tightness in both legs lessen. But still not enough for me to walk steady and straight.
For my next exercise, I separate my legs as far as I can and then bring them together as fast as I can. This exercise is repeated 15 times. When I feel I have more movement in both legs then I had before I started, I move on to another exercise.
For my next exercise, I will quickly cross my left foot over my right foot and then do the opposite. This exercise is done 15-to-20 times with each leg.
The last exercise that I do while lying on my back is I stretch my legs as far as I can and then lift them slowly until they are equal in height. Then I start pedaling as though I was bike riding. I do 25 exercises.
If my legs are still stiff, I turn over on my stomach I do the same exercises on my stomach as I do lying on my back.
When I finish my stomach exercises, I wait for five minutes, sometimes 10, and I get up. Most times, I can get up and walk. If I still have trouble walking, I re-start the exercises. Usually after I do two or three exercises, the stiffness is gone.
Recently I started riding my exercise bike in the morning for 10 minutes. This exercise also helps me walk better.
Sometimes, when I am in the bathroom, standing before a sink maybe shaving, maybe washing, maybe brushing my teeth or maybe getting dressed, my legs will start to stiffen. When this happens, I do a series of leg exercises ( 1 through 3 above).
My leg exercises take 10-15 minutes.
If I stay in bed on mornings when my legs are paralyzed, and I do not exercise my legs, it can take an hour, two or longer before my legs operate well enough so I can walk. Exercising speeds up the process.
My Gaming Exercises
I am also concerned about exercising my hands and brain. Every day when I get on my computer, my first stops are the games Free Cell, Mahjong, Solitaire and Spider Solitaire. I play these games to maintain good hand-eye coordination and to exercise my brain. I play at least three games of these four games three times daily. At the start of each game, I switch hands so I play one game using the mouse with my left hand and the next game I use the mouse with my right hand.
John M. Williams can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.