Teaching with Parkinsons


I teach Maths in a grammar school and wondered if there are any other teachers who have needed help in school?
What experiences have you had and what kind of help has been made available to you?

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there should be lots because teaching is the highest risk occupation for getting idiopathic parkinsons.
I was a teacher until 2008. I was made redundant but looking back, I now realise some of the issues I had with juggling lots of classes, planning, prep etc were probably the start of PD. I was diagnosed at Christmas 2009.
Why is it that so many of us were teachers? Maybe its stress? Teaching teenagers must rank right up there in the stress stakes!
I used to teach the under 5's, now I work for the education department. I advise teachers on working with children with special needs.

Couldn't go back to teaching children now.
one theory is that it is due to all the infections teachers get from their pupils
which is why health care workers are also high on the list
Hi, i've been teaching adults with learning difficulties for past 10yrs in college's and hope to continue until either i can't cope of more likely their is no work for me due to cut backs funding issues etc. I've hardly ever had a day off work apart from when my shoulder gave in (now known to be pd related) 6yrs ago! Stress is a big problem at this time of year for us what with reports to write and i'm currently covering an exta day for someone on long term leave, yet i find i'm buzzing and managing to cope (well at the moment anyway!) so maybe adrenaline is the new dopamine? plus a good bottle of wine helps:)

I taught in two comprehensive schools. The first in Coventry 1972 to 1979 teaching Statistics and Maths, the in South Wales 1980-2001 maths, stats but teaching maths was like getting blood out of a stone. I switched to computing.

In 1997 i developed a frozen shoulder and was depressed. I was diagnosed in 1999 at the age of 49. I asked my Union, NUT, for advice. They said they could do nothing and there were teachers with Parkinson's teaching. This was not the sort of answer I expected.

My specialist also would not write to my employer to get me out of work. Looking back this was correct, because I didn't suddenly disappear and become 'Billy no mates'. The two years gave me plenty of time to slowly tell my fellow teachers and some pupils that I was ill and would have to stop.

I was subscribed anti-depressants. this made a huge difference to my life: i was happy :grin: i started to go out to pubs and clubs :rolling_eyes: and I played ABBA's greatest hits:fearful: in my lessons, Happy days!

My hand didn't work so I didn't have to write reports, wasn't expected to stay late in school.

Howewver after two years I was totally exhausted and stopped.
Hi Bunnytheoctopus,

Our similarities are uncanny, teaching, frozen shoudler, age of dx (i was 48!) handwriting getting worse, and last but not least i too have been playing Abba music today with my students!!:laughing:....have you heard their song dum de diddle? it made us laugh :grin:.......but can you match hearing an ancient song on you tube singing 'Daisy Daisy'? A student request that had us all singing! Certainly helps ease the stress!

Hi Bunnytheoctopus and Diane

Oh my goodness. could there be a pattern developing here?
I too used to teach, suffered from a frozen shoulder, initial symptoms involved deteriorating handwriting and I was diagnosed aged 48! I never played Abba in the classroom but on my one and only trip to New York I went to see Mamma Mia on Broadway.
How strange! Twilight Zone or just coincidence, could be a whole new area of research.

Yours Mrtoad
Hi Bunnytheoctopus & Mr Toad,

you don't happen to have a bulging c5/6 vertebrae by any chance?

I was diagnosed 12 years ago at the age of 42. I carried on teaching and think I have managed pretty well. I had support from Access to Work which has been helpful.
Have been off for the last few weeks though and I'm not sure that I will ever return which has left me terrified about the changes I face - both financial and personal/social. Is there anybody else coping with this situation?
ps one of my early symptoms was a frozen shoulder too!
could I suggest the frozen shoulders were caused by pd stiffness plus writing on black/white boards above shoulder height?
Hi Turnip,

My shoulders used ache a bit and i blamed it on carrying a heavy bag full of folders etc. My writing on a white board was limited. My frozen shoulder came on instantly about 6am (no previous pain or niggles) as i turned over in bed. The pain was excruciating and lasted up tp 8 weeks before it eventually subsided. I was actually diagnosed with infraspanitus rather than frozen shoulder. A few days later i went for private physio and ended next morning 4am with full body jerks/spasms, overnight stay in hospital, neuro, mri, full tests at Hurstwood Park neuro centre and eventually seeing a professor in London hospital and as this was a year later and spasms vertually gone i got signed off with no conclusions! other than c5/6 vertebrae bulging and some signals of high foci!!

After seeing nhs physio i was told that there is a point near lower neck/top of shoulder that could have triggered my spasms caused by the physio although she was a little bit vague.

This is why i'm wondering if there is something near the neck/central nervous systemn that gets damaged distorted in some way that affects the signals from our brain? ie sends them backwards and confuses our cells and kills them off or something similar?? Highly unlikely but worth a thought? Also there are alot of other people on this forum who have neck/shoulder pains.

Gosh, i feel like a detective!:bulb:

P.s Has anyone still teaching stopped contributing to their teachers pension?

interesting thought. at the very least tension in the neck and shoulder area is a cause of a lot of problems. I have noticed that problems in my calves and heels are affected by how i hold my shoulders!! the head is very heavy and if not held right puts a strain on everything else. particularly when sitting at a computer.
there has also been some research into intercepting signals from the brain in the neck shoulder area - has anyone other than Michael Fox (hello Mike if you are listening in!) noticed that the shower spray on the back of the neck has a beneficial effect?
Personally. i have come to the conclusion that the initial cause of pd is unimportant once you have got it, what matters is what is sustaining the cell damage which is probably quite different from the initial cause which ceased many years ago. though it is interesting to speculate.
ps here's an idea to set the proverbial moggy amongst the pigeons - how many of us early onset pwp have done a lot of extreme exercise? excessive exercise can lower the immune system, allow nasties past the blood brain barrier and lead to excessive free radicals. just a thought. the number of times I have read 'I have been diagnosed with PD but always kept fit...'
Hi Turnip,
Forgot just how painful slaving over the computer is (but have been reminded today!)Oocchh.....Oww yes, hot shower on back of neck and lower back..bliss :smile: As for fitness...i'm one of life's couch potatoes :neutral_face:

Since I started this thread my school decided it would be a good idea to send me to the County Occupational Health Department and to put me in touch with Access To Work.
The woman I saw at the OH Dept didn't appear to be well versed in the problems of PD and misunderstood a number of things. For example on a bad day I find that turning the pages of the pupils exercise books to mark them is a nightmare! Her sugggestion related to a text book - if i had 'kindle' style textbook I wouldn't have to turn the pages. She almost took longer photocopying the pages of the Access to Work report than she did talking to me.
On the other hand, the Access to Work team have been brilliant. Prompt, efficient and the assessor who came to my school had really done her homework. Her suggestions ranged from a rubber thimble thing to a electronic page turner (for the page turning), a portable microphone (for my soft, slightly monotonic voice), voice activated software (to save typing) and an ergonomic chair to lessen the fatigue of sitting on an unsuitable chair...
We'll see how much of this the school will get me!
I think you are quite strong and full of courage to continue full time(?) teaching with the Access support. Good wishes with it. However, if you decide to stop, early retirement has its own merits I have found.
Hi Mathsman.I'm not a teacher, i'm a police officer. Both occupations up there for stratospheric stress levels i think! I was 47 when dx and was moved from front line operational to office based duties. I can't fault our occ health dept, like yourself they brought in the Access to Work people. I scored dragon software, a new chair, an ergonomic mouse and 2 computer screens!I am still F/T and its quite hard somedays. But on the big plus side i don't work shifts and the godawful night shift is a thing of the past. I would urge anyone to approach their HR or Occ health dept, if they don't know about Access to Work they should. Employers are obliged to make reasonable adjustments in the workplace to keep you employed.:grin:
I'm a Deputy Head teacher at a primary school - had PD 7 years and I'm now 43. Last year my school went into special measures and the workload has been hard to handle - we are expecting HMI in next week so I'm ready for a stress free day or two!