shoes (Parkinson’s disease)

Without a conscious focus on lifting the feet, the person who has Parkinson’s disease tends to shuffle his or her feet along the floor or walking surface. Shoes with a sticky type of sole, such as crepe, become tripping hazards as they grip the surface and then release suddenly. Jogging shoes and other shoes that have rugged tread designs present a similar hazard. The best shoe for the person with Parkinson’s is one that has a low heel and a smooth but not slick or stiff sole, such as a comfort walking shoe with a sole that slides without sticking or snagging but that does not cause slipping. People are reluctant to give up their favorite shoes, but because there are many styles available today, an acceptable compromise between fashion and function usually is possible.

Shoes that tie, buckle, or have narrow or tall (more than one-half inch) heels are difficult to put on and take off when fine motor skills are impaired. Laces and buckles require greater dexterity than the person with Parkinson’s is likely to have. in frustration the person is likely to leave the shoes unfastened, thus creating a tripping hazard. Better options are shoes that slip on or have hook-and-loop fasteners (such as Velcro). Long-handled shoehorns and other devices can help the person with Parkinson’s to pull on shoes without bending down to reach them.

Shoes provide the person’s connection with solid ground and should themselves feel and fit snugly. There should be little side-to-side movement in the heel cup, and the person’s heel should stay firmly within the shoe during walking. The heel supports the person’s sense of balance and orientation to the walking surface, both of which are essential for proper gait. Slip-on shoes, although easy to put on and take off, may feel too loose across the top, increasing the tendency to slide the feet when walking. As walking is one of the best forms of exercise and mobility, finding shoes that fit properly and are easy to manage is worth the extra effort. 

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