Eleven years after her Parkinson’s diagnosis Ineke was experiencing episodes of freezing of gait and started looking for a solution. “I said to my girlfriend: wouldn’t it be wonderful if Rollz came up with a Parkinson’s rollator? And it turned out they had just developed one!”
“Hard to describe what’s going on in your head when you’re suffering from freezing of gait. It feels like your feet are stuck to the ground. The first time it happened, at a traffic light, there was mainly a feeling of panic: what should I do when the cars start moving again?”
In such moments of freezing Ineke needs a cue or an impulse from outside to get her going again. And of course she would prefer to have this option on her Rollz Motion as this stable rollator has been already supporting her for many years. Moreover, she could simply continue using her own rollator instead of buying another one. So when she saw in the Parkinson Magazine a Rollz Motion Rhythm equipped with an electronic module, Ineke immediately wondered if this module could also be fitted on her five-year-old Rollz Motion.
Parkinsonian upgrade 5 years after buying
This 65 years old determined lady contacted Rollz to see if she can have her Rollz Motion converted into a Parkinson’s rollator. And yes, the upgrade was possible because her Rollz Motion has been in an excellent condition, so Ineke seized this opportunity with both hands. “Splendid that I could have it converted. I am very happy that this parkinsonian upgrade could still be installed on my rollator five years after buying it!”
The purchase of her rollator and wheelchair in one dates back to 2014, after returning from a holiday. She remembers having more and more trouble walking at that time as her Parkinson’s condition had worsened since 2008 when it has first diagnosed: “I didn’t dare to walk on my own anymore. Fortunately, I have a form of Parkinson’s disease where decline is very slow.”
In order to be able to get around during holidays, Ineke quickly purchased a simple rollator: “I wanted to take the time to pick a good one later on.” So after her vacation she bought a good rollator at a healthcare store in her vicinity. “I saw it right away, a cheerful rollator in a nice blue, my favourite colour. It was a Rollz Motion. It was perfect because it could also be transformed into a wheelchair so if I get tired after a long walk or have a bad day, I can be pushed along. On the way many people say: oh boy, what a nice rollator, lovely colour!”
During a cruise holiday in the Mediterranean she clearly noticed the difference. “The Rollz Motion has much better tyres and that was badly needed on the Greek’s islands with those bumpy cobbles, what a contrast.”
Parkinson’s module with three cues
The Parkinson’s module used to upgrade Ineke’s Rollz Motion provides three different external stimuli: vibrations in the handles, beeps in a certain rhythm and a laser line on the ground. These external cues stimulate people with Parkinson’s disease to overcome a moment of freezing and help to get into a better walking pattern. The cues may also be useful in case of other neurological conditions that lead to rigidity.
Most of the time Ineke uses both the cue with rhythmic tones and the vibration in the handles. “Sometimes I need those beeps and vibrations of that external rhythm for a longer period of time, sometimes less. If I can’t get going I press the button near the handle to start the cues, which helps me to start walking and get into the walking rhythm. Now and then I just use the rollator without the metronome. Sometimes I set it to 8 or 16 times, then 32 times, it depends on how I feel.”
The first time she tried the sound cue the volume was set rather loud. “Someone said: madam, it beeps! Well, a walker that produces a sound, not everyone expects that. That’s why I set the beeps that indicate the walking rhythm now quite soft, just loud enough to hear it myself.”
Freezing of gait in confusing situations
If Ineke has to wait at a traffic light she also uses the laser cue: “At such a pedestrian crossing I really need that laser beam to get going again from an episode of freezing. In quiet streets such inability to move my feet forward does not happen, then I have no such problem.”
Freezing of gait doesn’t happen to her very often but it is very unpleasant when it does and she gets stuck. “It occurs more often in confusing situations, such as when a garbage container is standing in the middle of the pavement. Then I wonder: how do I get past that, and stand still again, feet glued to the ground… But it can also be difficult to start walking simply after talking with someone on the way. I was looking for a solution for moments like these and I have found it now. If I suffer from an episode of freezing I turn on the laser by pressing the button. The laser line stimulates me to take a step over it and then I can continue walking”.
Rollz app on the mobile
The corresponding Rollz app on her smartphone is really something for Ineke as she likes to set a rhythm suitable for her at that moment, either faster or slower. Therefore she uses the phone to set the walking pace, and the duration and intensity of the three cues on her phone, although this can also be done directly on the module itself. “I like to make a different tune. My phone is full of apps, I like to try out all kinds of things, online applications. It’s a hobby.”
Sometimes she does not properly estimate her own strength and pace and adjusts the setting on her phone along the way: “Often I sit down on my rollator or on a bench to change the settings. When I go to the gym I set the walking pace slower, on the way back I set it faster.”
Conversion costs reimbursed by health insurance
Ordinary walkers and other walking aids are no longer covered by the health insurance in the Netherlands since 2013. However, a Parkinson’s rollator can be fully or partially reimbursed by the basic insurance if the applicant can demonstrate with a medical diagnosis or referral from the physician that they need this device. (NOTE: These rules are different in each country so please check with your own health insurance.)
As Ineke already had a Rollz Motion she only claimed the costs of the conversion from her health insurance and was reimbursed in full. “It was quite a hassle and the process took several weeks. It’s a good thing I’m such a tenacious person and I keep working on solving things as in the end the amount paid for converting my Rollz Motion into a Rollz Motion Rhythm returned in my bank account.”
Drag brake slows her down
Soon there will also be a drag brake available for the Rollz Motion and Ineke has been already testing a prototype. “I was walking faster and faster and that’s not pleasant. That’s why I’m using the drag brakes now. They slow me down neatly if I go too fast or if I can’t control my speed and that feels safe”.
Initially she was afraid that the drag brake would fall off the rollator at an inconvenient moment along the way, as it happened once with another rollator that she tried on the advice of her occupational therapist: “It didn’t work at all, I didn’t like it, really worthless. But I’m over that drag brake trauma and I almost always use the brakes outdoors now.”
Indoor and outdoor use
In these times of corona Ineke mainly stays at home and enjoys her garden. She takes only short walks outside but is looking forward to do it more often and restart the fitness exercises in the physio practice: “I can tell from my body that I’m getting stiffer because I don’t exercise as much as I should.” But before corona she always took the Rollz Moton with her when going out shopping, walking or for a medical appointment.
Inside the house she uses her Rollz Motion to get up from a chair and start walking again: “When I’m stiff I have starting problems so I use it as a support to hold on to and to take a couple of steps for streching, but afterwards I can walk without it. If I have a bad day, I use it indoors more often.”
People regularly want to know more about her special parkinsonian version of the Rollz Motion so Ineke has already given some demonstrations to other Parkinson’s patients, occupational therapists or physiotherapists, while another demo is planned for a Parkinson Café in her neighbourhood.
Check out the Rollz Motion Rhythm page on our website if you would like to know more about Rollz’s parkinson’s rollator.