One of the things that Parkinson’s steals away are things we do automatically. Things like walking, being able to lift our feet up and swinging our arms when we walk are lost.
In a sense, the automatic transmission is lost. In cars, the automatic c transmission allows us to do things without thinking about shifting gears with a gear shift.
Parkinson’s attacks the centers of the brain wear automatic reactions are controlled. Things as simple as flexing your hip to lift your leg when walking are lost. Picking that leg up off of the floor to clear your foot when you walk gets harder and harder, because it is an automatic reaction. It something we do without thinking. It may seem sometimes that stepping over an object is easier than walking across a room because those actions are processed by the brain in different ways. Stepping over an object is an intentional action, while walking is an automatic reaction. Some with PD may wonder why they can still climb stairs but have difficulty or “freeze” when they walk across a room.
What can we do to compensate for the loss of those automatic reactions ? We have to work on building new motor pathways and treat the old automatic reactions like a new skills that we need to relearn.
The scientific world uses a term called neuroplasticity when talking about the brain. Meaning that it has the ability to sprout new pathways or make new connections or takeover for part of the brain that have been damaged.
This is good news. It is part of our roadmap / strategy for combatting the loss of our automatic transmission. We create new pathways through learning new skills which will help our balance and gait with Parkinson’s disease.