Perhaps the most famous face of Parkinson’s is Michael J. Fox, who has created a successful foundation with the sole purpose of researching treatments for the condition. As a very public figure, Fox has continued acting in many different productions even with his speech and movements being affected. He has done a great deal to raise awareness of the disease, and more people than ever before now know what Parkinson’s can do to the body and the mind.
Generally thought to be caused by a combination of environmental and genetic factors (exposure to pesticides and a severe head injury can increase the chances of the disease developing), Parkinson’s is named after English doctor James Parkinson. He called the disorder “Shaking Palsy,” and indeed, shaking is one of its most obvious symptoms. Inexplicably, Parkinson’s develops when the brain cells that create dopamine, which are essential for coordinating movements, stop working and start dying. This causes tremors, slowness, stiffness, difficulty moving, and balance problems. Spontaneous, uncontrollable actions, or fidgeting (called dyskinesia), are also common.
Parkinson’s displays differently in each of the 6 million people worldwide who have been diagnosed, which can make it difficult to treat. The disease does tend to progress through certain stages, however, from stage 1 to stage 5, with stage 5 being the most advanced. It is not fatal in and of itself, but related complications can greatly reduce life expectancy. Those with Parkinson’s are more likely to take a severe fall, accidentally choke while eating, and develop blood clots, blockages in the lungs, and pneumonia, which some may not be able to recover from.
A Weighted Blanket for Parkinson’s Sufferers Can Ease Symptoms
In addition to physical symptoms, stress and anxiety are also prevalent in those with Parkinson’s. Many believe this to be because of the reduction of dopamine in the brain. Stress and anxiety may also be because of the difficulties of dealing with such a disease, which takes a toll on both those diagnosed and their caregivers.
A Hippo Hug weighted blanket for Parkinson’s is an option to allow for calm, rest and relaxation. Weighted blankets for Parkinson’s provide what is known as deep pressure touch stimulation, described by AppliedBehaviorAnalysisEdu.org as “firm but gentle squeezing, hugs, or holding that relaxes the nervous system.” When the nervous system is relaxed, a calm feeling ensues.
When deep pressure touch stimulation is applied, the sympathetic nervous system switches to the parasympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system stimulates the “fight or flight” response, which occurs when there is a perceived threat. The parasympathetic nervous system stimulates the “rest and digest” response. This is when the body begins to conserve energy, regenerate, and heal.
A weighted blanket for Parkinson’s will help to alleviate the negative affects of stress and anxiety, which include problems with the immune, cardiovascular, and respiratory systems. Stress and anxiety are also known to wreak havoc on the digestive system, which, for a person with Parkinson’s, is already compromised.
Weighted blankets are also helpful for tremors. A study noted by the International Essential Tremor Foundation conducted by Gaby Badre, a sleep specialist and neurophysiologist, states that those with tremors who have tried weighted blankets report moving around less, and fewer occurrences of bursts of brain activity. Most said that they slept better with a weighted blanket.
A Hippo Sit weighted lap pad is a another great option for involuntary hand movements. They can make the user feel more comfortable in social environments as they can put their hands inside the pocket with the weight on top to help control hand tremors. The calming deep pressure is also helpful for reducing the anxiety that may be associated with visible fidgeting.
Caretakers and Family Members Can Benefit From a Weighted Blanket, Too
Caring for a loved one who is struggling is difficult. It’s hard to watch people we care about suffering, and emotions can run high. Caretakers often don’t take care of themselves as well as they do those they are tending to.
This kind of stress can lead to the sympathetic nervous system running at peak capacity, which will practically ensure a good night’s rest to be impossible. Not only do weighted blankets help calm you down, they also help to soothe you off to sleep more quickly, and stay asleep for longer.
Customize Your Weighted Blanket
Hippo Hug weighted blankets are special because they can be completely customized to perfectly suit the person we made it for. Instead of sand or pellets, our blankets’ weight comes from propriety ceramic coated metal discs. When we sew your customized blanket we can place these disks in the exact places they will provide the most benefit. As we know that a weighted blanket is an investment, we highly advise that you not waste the weight. The correct size of blanket and a fabric that complements you and your décor are also very important. One of our skilled tailors can help you choose.
We also have many blankets ready to purchase in store, but we don’t expect you to choose right away. Our unique Try Before You Buy program can help ensure you are completely comfortable with your purchase. You can be additionally proud of supporting Hippo Hug as a Calgary born-and-bred company, as our products are qualified as Made in Canada.
Another benefit of a Hippo Hug blanket is that they can be cooled for those who tend to “sleep hot.” Cooling yourself down is known to be a good way to ease yourself off to sleep.
More Hippo Hug Products
Additional products we have to assist in inducing a relaxing feeling include:
If you have any questions about how a weighted product may benefit you, please feel free to contact us through email, by phone, or come on by our storefront a few blocks east of Chinook Centre.