Laser shoes for Parkinsons gait freezing.

One of the more difficult issues to deal with in folks with Parkinsons disease is gait freezing.  That’s where the person stands in one place unable to start walking.  The first movement of a foot off the ground just won’t happen.  It can be quite disabling and, as I’ve seen in my waiting room many times, it can be socially embarrassing.  There’s a performance anxiety component in many folks which makes it happen more often in public than at home.  We try various “tricks” to get that first foot moving, such as marching in place first or pretending to step over an imaginary line.  There are rollator walkers with a laser light that shines just ahead of the person to provide a line to step over and there are canes that also have lasers to put a spot on the floor to aim at.  For whatever reason, stepping on a target can help overcome the freezing.

Enter the “laser shoes.”  In an article called The laser shoes: A new ambulatory device to alleviate freezing of gait in Parkinson disease, published in the journal Neurology, researchers designed a shoe attachment that shines a laser projection from the shoe itself onto the floor, for people who don’t otherwise need a cane or walker.  (Of course you can also just carry a laser pointer, but that’s not all that convenient.)  They found that the laser shoes reduced the number of freezing episodes by about 30-50% depending on how effective there medication was at the time.  (For those who know, the “off” or “on” state.)  Most in the trial expressed a desire to buy a laser device.  That’s a pretty good endorsement!

In case your wondering, the device can be purchased.  As a doctor, I’m not formally recommending it and I have no experience with it.  But here’s the link.  I also have no financial interest whatsoever, of course.

-DS (7-10-18)