Our primary goal at the Davis Phinney Foundation is to provide people with Parkinson’s information and resources to help them live well. As part of fulfilling this promise, we’re constantly on the lookout for the latest and greatest treatments, tools and technologies that are helping people with Parkinson’s to improve their quality of life.
In celebration of Parkinson’s Awareness Month, we put together our up-to-the-minute list of treatments, tools and technologies you may want to check out as you create your plan for wellness. They are a combination of items we’ve been investigating and those that people with Parkinson’s have enthusiastically shared with us. We hope you find something on this list that helps you live well today and every day.
Please be sure to leave a comment after you read this post and let us know the resources you’ve found helpful for living well with Parkinson’s.
Note: The items under each category are organized alphabetically, not in order of rank.
When it comes to treatments, these are suggestions about possibilities you might want to discuss with your doctor. Not every treatment is a fit for everyone; however, we do want to share what we’ve learned in case you’d like to explore it with your care team.
Complementary Therapies – Tai Chi, yoga, dance, meditation and acupuncture are just a few of the complementary therapies that some people with Parkinson’s swear by in helping them reduce their symptoms. Consider trying a few out to see what works for you.
Deep Brain Stimulation – Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) involves surgically implanting a neurotransmitter that sends electrical impulses to specific areas of your brain. This procedure has helped many people with Parkinson’s reduce symptoms such as tremor, rigidity and bradykinesia. And it may also reduce the number and amount of medications that are needed. Learn more about it here.
Marijuana – Many people with Parkinson’s have experimented with using marijuana to ease symptoms. A panel from our Victory Summit and Dr. Benzi Kluger talk about the risks and potential benefits of its use.
Ritalin – Methylphenidate (MP), better known by its brand name, Ritalin, is a psychostimulant which has seen an increase in off-label use (without FDA approval) to treat Parkinson’s fatigue. Learn more about it from our post here and discuss the risks and benefits of MP with your neurologist and other healthcare team members before deciding if it is right for you.
Vocal Fold Medialization – This treatment is for people who have difficulty speaking due to physical limitations in the mouth, throat, tongue or vocal cords. Some have found vocal fold medialization to be helpful when speech and voice therapy have failed to show improvements.
Clock Yourself – A series of brain games that can help you improve your physical and cognitive ability. Use the visual of a clock to execute various movements. Just a few minutes a day can go a long way to helping you improve your reaction times in a safe manner.
EMST150™ – Recommended by one of our Ambassadors Amy Carlson, this tool will improve breathing force and increase the strength of your cough, swallow and voice.
EZ Reacher and Grabber – This is a great tool if it’s painful to bend over or it’s difficult to grasp small items due to tremor.
File of Life – File of Life allows first responders to begin treatment as quickly as possible. This isn’t just something we recommend to people with Parkinson’s, it’s what we recommend for everyone.
Hamilton Beach One Touch Auto Jar Opener – This one-touch automatic jar opener makes opening jars easy.
Headspace – A guided meditation and mindfulness app that makes it easy for anyone to meditate. They offer a free 10-day course where you’ll learn how to experience the benefits of meditation in just 10 minutes a day.
No Cry Gloves – Ideal for people with tremor who still love to cook.
Popsockets – Put these on your phone to make it easier to grip.
Toe Socks – If toe cramping is a regular problem for you, toe socks may be the relief you need. One of our friends of the Foundation swears by them.
Weighted Pen – This weighted pen helps control involuntary motions associated with hand tremor.
Yaktrax – Don’t want to give up your walking or running (or just daily living) during the winter months, but you also want a way to navigate ice and snow better? Yaktrax is a device you put over your shoe that provides you with a secure grip so you can stay stable and safe.
Yoga Toes – Do you get regular cramping in your feet? Do they feel considerably more sore at the end of each day? Yoga Toes stretch and strengthen your entire foot and as a result, reduce pain, improve circulation and relax the muscles that worked so hard throughout the day.
Balance Matters® – This mat can help you improve your balance and gait, increase your mobility and decrease your risk of falling.
Bikes – We’re big fans of biking when it comes to helping people with Parkinson’s reduce their symptoms and feel better every day. From e-bikes to Catrikes, Theracycles, tandems, indoor spinners, indoor cycling classes, cycling fundraisers and more, there’s an option for you.
BurnAlong – A platform that offers a wide variety of online exercise classes… with a twist. And, for the entire month of April, to celebrate World Parkinson’s Day, they are offering a full free month trial.
Calibrace+ – This back brace by AbiliLife works by pulling your shoulders up and back and providing support across the entire torso in order to not only improve your posture over the long-term but also reduce pain. (It’s also covered by Medicare.)
Dragon – The leading voice to text software solution.
eatwell – According to the inventor, eatwell is a “tableware set with a very user-centered design that helps to increase food intake and maintain dignity for its users, while also helping to alleviate caring burdens by making the process of eating as easy as possible.” The design won first place at the 2014 Stanford Design Challenge.
eLivelihood – This is an online service for care teams to help them manage and organize care for their loved ones. If you’re looking for a way to house everything in one place and easily be able to communicate with loved ones and care providers about patient care, this might be a great fit for you.
Gyro Glove – A glove developed to reduce hand tremor. Unfortunately, it’s still in production, but it has a great team behind it and it’s worth keeping an eye on.
Hero Health – Hero Health is a medication dispenser, app and pharmacy that takes the stress out of medication management. Designed with care partners in mind, it’s a brilliant solution for people living with chronic disease and the people who care for them.
Natural Gas Detector – Many people with Parkinson’s experience a diminished sense of smell. As an extra step to protect yourself, be sure that you have a natural gas detector in your home. There are many options. Someone recommended this one to us.
RoadID Medical Alert – A wrist, necklace or shoe ID that goes everywhere with you. Make it easy to get help when you need it most.
Smart Cane – This cane detects any unusual situation and automatically alerts caregivers and family if a change in use or fall is detected. It’s currently pending release, but you can get on their interest list now.
SpeechVive – A device that increases your speech volume and clarity. You won’t feel left out of the conversation when you use SpeechVive. And, if you’re interested in getting involved in NIH-funded research with SpeechVive, you can learn more here. (Update as of February 4, 2019: SpeechVive is now able to submit commercial insurance claims for reimbursement. Get the SpeechVive Insurance Reimbursement Packet and find out more here.)
Talking Book Library – This is the Library of Congress national library service for the blind and physically handicapped. They provide audio, braille and large print books to keep you connected to the stories you love to read. And they have libraries everywhere.
U-Step – A walker designed specifically for people with neurological disorders. More stability, maneuverability and control than other walkers.
Walk with Path – The Pathfinder is a shoe attachment that provides visual cues to help people with unsteady and irregular gait. It’s currently not available in the US, but it will be soon!
We’d love to know, what would you add to this list? What have you tried that has helped you live well with Parkinson’s? Share your ideas in the comments.
Want More Practical Articles Like This?
Much more can be found in a powerful new edition of Davis Phinney Foundation’s free Every Victory Counts® manual. It’s jam-packed with up-to-date information about everything Parkinson’s, plus an expanded worksheets and resources section to help you put what you’ve learned into action. Color coding and engaging graphics help guide you through the written material and point you to complementary videos, podcasts and other materials on the Every Victory Counts companion website. And, it is still free of charge thanks to the generosity of our sponsors.
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