The ability to comprehend and conceptualise visual representations and spatial relationships in learning and performing a task.
I mentioned visual-spatial skills in a recent blog and the fact that these skills can be impaired in people with Parkinson’s. This started me thinking about how (and just how often) we use our visual-spatial skills and the many scenarios where any impairment may lead to problems. Quick thinking at times, it didn’t take me long to produce a long list of examples from my recent experiences.
Parking the Car
I find it increasingly difficult to park the car accurately, especially if I have to reverse into a space. This is despite 360 degree parking cameras, electronic sensors, and park assist, which seem to add nothing but sensory overload. Relieved to have parked, I not infrequently get out of the car to find it so badly parked I have to get back in to have another attempt.
Not in the car, I hasten to add, but when walking around, I frequently bump into stationery objects. It is easily done. It happens to us all but I suspect I have more bruises from bumping into door frames, tables and other furniture than most.
Self Assembly Furniture
‘No problem’, I thought recently when I took delivery of a not quite fully assembled wardrobe. Over the years I’ve successfully assembled my share of ready packed furniture. Not so! The assembly instructions consisted of only five simple steps but I could not translate the 2-dimensional pictures on the paper to the 3-dimensional pieces of furniture in the room. After a frustrating couple of hours, having made absolutely no progress, I had to delegate the job and anyone who know me well, knows that I hate to admit defeat.
When training with my personal trainer, I cannot replicate the simplest of moves if we face each other. I have to turn round and face the same direction as him in order to copy any movements.
Crossing The Road
See previous blog, ‘The Green Cross Code Man’
Navigating Familiar Roads
Beyond useless, is my only assessment of my navigating around town on foot, bike or car. I know where I am and where I want to get to (always a good start) but cannot work out a picture of the route in my head. Last week, I took 25 minutes to walk (a very indirect route) from home to a park 10 minutes away. I just couldn’t picture the direct route I needed to take.
Navigating Unfamiliar Roads
When cycling from Land’s End to John O’groats, I cycled in ever decreasing circles for an extra eight miles around Tiverton town centre, looking for the elusive canal path leading out of town. Miraculously, I made the additional 800 miles to John O’Groats but only with the help of 21 fellow cyclists who daren’t let me out of their sight after that!
I think a visual-spatial impairment might explain the difficulty I have keeping my balance when turning right on my bike. Left hand turns for some reason are no problem. Can’t explain that one.
See previous blog ‘The Magic Roundabout’
Apparently a common cause of falls in people with impaired depth perception, an element of visual-spatial skills. I’ve never fallen but notice I need to hang on to a rail and get my balance before heading downstairs recently.
Catching a Ball
Suffice to say, I’m never going to make it on to the cricket team!
Hands up – I’ve never been any good at map reading but cannot now, for the life of me, reconcile what is on paper with where I am and where I want to be. Thank goodness for SatNavs and Google Street Maps which give clear, verbal, step by step, instructions.
I hope this gives an interesting insight into another aspect of living with Parkinson’s that is largely unseen by others.
PS Mum, don’t worry. Like SatNavs and Google Street Maps, there’s a work around for almost every scenario and where I’m still searching for one, in the meantime, there’s always chocolate……
Images Source: ClipArt Library