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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The ABC's of Parkinson's Disease Handwriting

One of my earliest symptoms of Parkinson's Disease was a change in my handwriting, though I didn't realize it at the time. Difficulty writing is the main thing I hate about having Parkinson's Disease, and even though I joke about it in my songs, in reality, I don't find anything humorous about it. 

The medical term for it is Micrographia, which simply means small writing. Our letters tend to get smaller and smaller and closer together until we can no longer read it (heck, I don't think even a Doctor could read mine). Add in some tremor and most of us just quit writing all together. I fall into this category.

Everything I have read has said the handwriting problems can't be fixed with therapy or even the DBS procedure, so I pretty much gave up hope of ever writing again, until this past week.

I went to several Parkinson's seminars in Southern California last week and heard a speaker talk about reprogramming our brains to normal. She was discussing the idea of using large exaggerated movements to show our brains that small wasn't normal and she mentioned handwriting. She didn't elaborate, but I put on my thinking cap and decided to try an experiment.

I hope you will experiment with me.

Please take a piece of paper and write the following: The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy sleeping dog 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 and sign your name.

Now, watch this video and do exactly what I do in it.
(It takes less than 5 minutes, what have you got to lose?)

video

Please do the exercise a total of 3 times, I was holding the TV remote control in my hand, but you can use anything larger than a standard pen. 

Now, please write the same thing as you did before and let me know if you see a difference (send me an email at yumabev@gmail.com). I was completely amazed at my results. 

The improvement doesn't last, but why should it? Parkinson's Disease is working against you 24 hours a day, so we have to keep fighting it. I found the improvement lasted a day or two, then the writing returned to small & illegible, but if I did the exercise again, or something similar, the improvement came back. I am thrilled to be able to write again and I hope you get similar results. Here is my before and after:
Before and After the exercise

Please let me know if you get similar results. yumabev@gmail.com  Thanks.

You can find all my videos on my YouTube channel:

Thank you for reading this story, I hope you enjoyed it. This is just one of a hundred stories in my book, Parkinson's Humor - Funny Stories about My Life with Parkinson's Disease. Please consider purchasing a copy from Amazon.com or your favorite online book seller. Thank you and have a Happy Parkie Day!

26 comments:

  1. Very interesting, and yes, it did help to reprogram how I write. I am a micrographia-ite also........Jim

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  2. Some users of the Parkinson's Improvement Programme report a sustained improvement in handwriting and speech over four years or more. So if Bev's method doesn't help look into www.brainhelp.info It might be your answer

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    1. Linda Giorgilli RiceJune 20, 2012 at 11:42 AM

      Bev, as you know I don't have Parkinson's, but I thought this looked so interesting. I wanted to mention that my father's pride was his beautiful handwriting. When he was still living and his PD had taken away his ability to write much at all, I went to a seminar where they were giving away an instrument to help steady your index finger called PenAgain (I know it is sold at Baumgarten's, a store that has a Facebook site), or can possibly be found directly online. In either case, my father was delighted and it helped him so much. I do have to say, though, that I have heard others mention it did not help them. Anyway, I just wanted to add this to this very interesting share of your. Thank you!

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  3. Interesting. It does seem to trick the brain into writing bigger. I like it. Perhaps with constant repetition it might stay longer. My solution to this was placing a very dark lined paper (laminated) under the paper I wanted to write on so I could see the lines through the paper very clearly then using the lines as a guide. I always keep my "cheat lines" with me all the time. I also have an index sized card, also laminated, for small stuff. Once done writing I pass along the top sheet and no one can tell what I did. Darin

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  4. Hi Bev
    I have just tried it and yes it is easier to read my hand writing not that was too bad before but you can see the difference

    Kevin

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  5. I did the exercise one time (my arm got tired)
    got immediate improvement! This may have implications for other exercises!
    Brilliant! way to go Bev, and thanks!
    Charlie

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  6. I have struggled with my writing for the past year it has improved since being on Sinemet. I did try your exercises although i didnt repeat them and I have noticed a slight improvement! I will continue to practice them on a regular basis. Thank-you xxx

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  7. Thank you Bev for sharing---it works!
    Toni

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  8. I agree who handwriting is a window into the personality of a person. I have taught handwriting to kids for years, and appreciate its complexity. I love, personally, the fountain pen. It gives a person a sense of artistic creativity when writing. When not keyboarding, or using a fountain pen, I enjoy the Space Pen.

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  9. Hello,

    I have read this blog is really nice and I appreciate your work is awesome is very useful post for me to improve my handwriting, thanks for give me update for this handwriting Disease.

    Thank You for sharing.

    Regards
    Handwriting

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  10. Hello,

    Nice Blog and very informative, also my handwriting is not good so this post was very helpful for me to improve my Handwriting. I bookmark it for future use.

    Thanks For Blog.
    -----------------

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  11. Bored? Nothing on TV? Invite someone with Parkinson's to dinner but don't tell the person you're serving spaghetti. Good for a couple hours of fun, the person not getting a single noodle in his or her mouth. Just might want to spread plastic on the floor and wear old clothes, bound to be alot of sauce action. (I have PD.)

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    1. If a person with PD falls in the forest, does anyone hear?

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    2. Probably not, Larry. Why? Because PD affects our voices as well!

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  12. Does anyone know of a commercially available device like a reducing pantograph with a step index key? This would let one use the big loopy motions to produce more normal sized writing one letter at a time, with the step index key after each letter to move the pantograph output right to left so the letters don't over write each other. If anyone knows of such a device or can develop it, I would be happy to buy one!

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  13. Hello!! I've tried this technique with my patient about four times. The first time, the results were amazing! However, the next few times weren't as successful. My questions to you are:
    1. How often do you suggest we do the technique?
    2. Does it only work using the provided sentence? (I tried a new sentence and it wasn't as successful.)
    3. If my patient doesn't write formal letters often, will it affect the progress of the technique??

    Thanks so much for inventing something so brilliant!! Gives hope to my patients!!

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    1. Parkinson's never sleeps, it constantly tries to make everything smaller. Since the effect doesn't last, the exercises should be done before trying to write. I used the sentence because it incorporates every letter of the English alphabet. A person could just as easily practice writing abcd efgh ijkl etc.

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  14. Brilliant. Makes sense
    Pat

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  15. This is really an interesting idea. I'm going to try it and see if it helps me out. My handwriting is starting to go down hill these days. I miss my big loopy letters. LoL!

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  16. Thanks for re-posting this, Bev. My clients with Parkinson's find your technique very helpful.
    Holly

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  17. I could see an improvement after the first time. I did it a 2nd time and could see further improvement. My arm is very tired after the second time. I have been looking for a way to improve my handwriting and this is going to be added in my daily routine. Thanks YumaBev!

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  18. I had my husband try this tonight. He was reluctant, as usual. But WOW, we were both impressed. Thank you very much.
    Jeane

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  19. Wow! I did this exercise and could see a noticeable improvement. Even if effectiveness is short-term; it gives validity and hope that exercise truly makes a difference.
    Rebekah

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  20. Mine has turned into something I would not even call handwriting I cant even read what I wrote And in the same paragraph parts can come out perfect
    Sandy

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  21. Mine is small, runs downhill, and the first word is illegible and gets progressively worse. Strangely, it was one of my first symptoms
    Jeff

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  22. I'm in a art therapy for PD and I noticed when I draw my figure get smaller as I keep drawing
    Pat

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