Parkinson’s disease is a condition which affects the nervous system. The progressive disease influences movement, and can lead to a wide array of symptoms. These may include-
- Slurred speech
- Rigid muscles
- Slowed movements
- Impaired balance
- Impaired posture
- Impaired balance
Hypomimia is one of the more common symptoms of Parkinson’s. It causes the face to appear like stone, or like someone is wearing a mask. In the age of COVID, it is almost like those with Parkinson’s are wearing two masks every single day.
Hypomimia means that the individual isn’t able to make many facial expressions. They also have less control over the expressions that they can make. This means that they often appear to be more upset, or sad, then they actually are. Many patients can’t move their eyebrows and aren’t able to smile.
It can be an incredibly frustrating thing that is practically impossible to understand unless you’ve experienced it. For some people, it is even more frustrating than loosing control of their limbs. This is because it impacts communication and relationships.
When patients have hypomimia and issues with their speech, communication is even more difficult.
Now that we all have to wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Parkinson’s patients with hypomimia and speech issues are finding it even more difficult to be heard accurately and have normal conversations.
COVID-19 and Parkinson’s
Cloth and paper masks dampen the noise we emit. This means it’s even harder than normal for Parkinson’s patients to be heard.
However, there is also a way to look at this new reality in a positive way. This virus has provided a new way to advocate for those living with Parkinson’s and spread awareness of the hypomimia symptom.
People who don’t have the condition are getting a glimpse into the lives of someone who does. They are understanding some of the struggles firsthand. Both visual and audible cues are dampened for everyone when wearing a mask to prevent the virus.
We are forced to rely on other cues to understand someone’s emotions, thoughts, and needs. Perhaps, as this begins to become more of a habit, those with Parkinson’s will be able to communicate with the world more easily because the world can finally recognize a bit of life in their world.
You can read more about this take on Parkinson’s and COVID-19 here.