Balance Issues Are Inevitable with Parkinson’s Disease

Sherri Woodbridge avatar

by Sherri Woodbridge |

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Years ago, Harrison Ford played the role of Henry Turner, the main character in the movie “Regarding Henry.”

Henry’s entire world shifts when he is shot in the head during a robbery at the convenience store where he was buying cigarettes. The nearly fatal injury puts him into cardiac arrest and he ends up with brain damage, specifically retrograde amnesia.

It takes several months for Henry to recover. When he is finally released from the hospital, he is not the man he used to be — an arrogant playboy who steps on others to get what he wants. The Henry from before was unfaithful to his wife, and his daughter was afraid of him. Henry post-injury is almost childlike, and upon learning who he was before the accident, tries to right some of his wrongs.

In the first few days home, Henry is sitting at the table with his daughter eating breakfast when she accidentally spills her milk on the kitchen table. Fear seizes her as she awaits Henry’s reaction. He sees the fear in her eyes, and to put her at ease, says, “It’s OK. I do that all the time.” He then tips over his glass of milk as well.

A few months ago, I read about a woman who had Parkinson’s disease (PD). She, like so many of us, was frequently dropping things, including her meals, which made her feel humiliated and embarrassed. Unfortunately, that’s what PD does. It gives you plenty of opportunities to be humiliated and embarrassed, always when you least expect it. But what we need to do is learn to go easy on ourselves. It’s not like we are doing these things on purpose.

The fact is that we all spill things, Parkinson’s or not. We all lose our balance and drop things or fall to the ground. Having PD just makes the opportunities more probable. We need to recognize that spills and falls are going to happen sooner or later, and we should try to be ready for it.

Here’s what you will need:

  • A cane or a walker
  • A helmet
  • Knee pads
  • Body armor
  • Elbow pads
  • Shin guards
  • Safety goggles
  • Leather gloves
  • Steel-toe boots
  • Brawny paper towels for those tough spills
  • Medic alert device to alert people that you have fallen and can’t get up
  • A sense of humor

A dog to lick up those spills wouldn’t be bad, either. Just decide that you are going to turn that 5-second rule into 20 — as we all know, things take just a little bit longer to do with PD!


Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, Bionews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.


Graham avatar


For a technique to help with balance, giving a temporary boost of 30 to 40% to balance (by tricking our neural pathways) see this link:

or google "ultimate parkinson's tips balance equilibrium"

Sherri Woodbridge avatar

Sherri Woodbridge

Thanks for the info, Graham!

Dan Freedman avatar

Dan Freedman

I appreciate the positive intent of the author, and this is a good article about how to cope with the issue of dropping things. The title, however, is puzzling. The article does not address balance issues, nor the inevitability of them. Instead, it does a great job of describing a PD perspective on dropping things, with balance being mentioned only once in the article, and even then, only in passing.

I would love to read other articles by this author, and I hope the titles can better reflect the content in the future.

Sherri Woodbridge avatar

Sherri Woodbridge

Hi Dan - Thank you for your comment. The original title was “Regarding Spills and Falls in PD” and while falls weren’t addressed at length as spills were, they were briefly touched upon. The key word there is ‘briefly’. I liked the original title better than the one it ended up with, which was decided upon by the editors who are looking to maximize for SEO purposes. So, all to say I agree with you but I don’t have the last word, at least I don’t think I do! Anyhow, thanks for reading and next time, hopefully, it will all come together a bit better. Thanks again for commenting and enjoy your weekend!

David Cook avatar

David Cook

Do you have any recommendations for brand or features of knee and elbow pads. I see pads for all types of activities & am unsure which is best suited for PD> Thanks.


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