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Slowness of Movement (Bradykinesia)

Slowness of movement, also called bradykinesia, is one of the most common symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. It affects dexterity and coordination of all movements.

Bradykinesia involves a slowness in performing (rather than initiating) movement as well as a reduced range of motion.

Bradykinesia, along with tremors and stiffness, are the main motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. It can affect only one side of the body or both.

In everyday life, bradykinesia manifests itself, among others, by :

  • a reduction in fine dexterity which will cause difficulty in buttoning one’s clothes, tying one’s shoes
  • grooming slowness in walking, speaking and affecting the style of writing
  • reduction in the size of steps, the frequency of blinking of the eyes and facial expression

Daily tasks and activities therefore take longer to complete.

Bradykinesia can be particularly frustrating because it is often unpredictable. One moment you can get around easily, and the next you need help. As Parkinson’s disease progresses, certain tasks may become impossible to perform.

Parkinson’s disease is characterized by a decrease in the level of dopamine in the brain. This is a neurotransmitter that allows you to perform movements. As the disease progresses, the level of dopamine decreases and the performance of voluntary (ex: walking) or involuntary (ex: clicking eyes) movements becomes slower and slower.

At first, it can be difficult to see the first signs of bradykinesia. Over time, you will find that you need more time to complete usual, daily tasks. You might find it difficult to make precise movements or movements requiring dexterity.

If you feel that bradykinesia interferes too much with your daily activities, discuss it with your neurologist. They can adjust your medications and refer you to a physiotherapist or occupational therapist. These experts will help you by prescribing exercises and advising you on techniques for adjusting your movements.

In the more advanced stages of the disease, bradykinesia can become very bothersome. It can prevent you from performing certain tasks. Talk to your loved ones about what help they can provide.

Antiparkinsonian drugs, including levodopa, usually help reduce slowness of movement. If you find that your bradykinesia is not being well controlled with your medications, discuss this with your neurologist. They may change your dosage and the times at which you take your medications. 

The slowness of your loved one’s movement is not intentional

In the early stages of Parkinson’s disease, your loved one will need more time to complete certain tasks. However, they will still be able to do them. Give them enough time and don’t try to do these tasks for them.

In the later stages of the disease, your loved one may become unable to perform certain tasks. Rather than doing these tasks for them right away, ask them what you can do to help them. This way, they will feel that they still have power over their actions.

As the disease progresses, slowness of movement affects more and more movements and becomes a hindrance to daily activities.

Bradykinesia progresses in the final stages of Parkinson’s disease to a complete inability to make certain movements (akinesia). The person can become dependent for the performance of certain tasks which are then impossible for them to perform.

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