Life Wellbeing Parkinson’s disease ‘escape room’ simulates daily struggles

Parkinson’s disease ‘escape room’ simulates daily struggles

Parkinson's escape room
An escape room that simulate Parkinson's symptoms challenges Australians to experience the disease first-hand. Photo: Parkinson's NSW
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The inescapable nature of Parkinson’s disease has been recreated in an interactive project, designed to give Australians an insight into what it feels like to live with the condition.

Parkinson’s NSW developed an escape room – with a twist.

Its puzzles are similar to challenges Australians living with Parkinson’s face every day: Pouring a cup of tea, tying a shoelace, reading a sign.

A virtual version of the room also exists, so all Australians are able to see if they can ‘beat’ the disease.

The Parkinson’s NSW team brought together 15 of Australia’s top escape room experts under the guise they were wanted to test a new pop-up room.

They’re experts – they know what they’re doing when it comes to solving the puzzles and finding the key in record time.

But this room had them stumped.

Each of the puzzles represented a different Parkinson’s symptom that stumps those who live with the disease every day.

One challenge is tying shoelaces. Seemingly easy for most of us, we can do it with our eyes closed.

“Just untie them,” one contestant says.

It’s not that easy.

To show just how difficult it is for someone with Parkinson’s, the shoelaces are threaded with wire, to make them stiff and unbendable.

“The shoelace challenge, that’s pretty indicative of what it can be like if you’re having an off day,” our narrator tells us, as he watches the contestants try to find their way out.

They’re faced with more and more challenges – pouring a teapot, solving a memory puzzle – until they finally find the key, unlocking the door and revealing the room’s true puzzle.

Contestants try to pour a hot drink – breakfast is a precarious daily task for those living with Parkinson’s. Photo: Parkinson’s NSW

The room was created to bring awareness to the hidden cohort of Parkinson’s disease sufferers – the young.

As contestants find out in the end, every day five Australians under the age of 40 are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

It’s almost always associated with older people, Parkinson’s NSW CEO Jo-Anne Reeves said, but 18 per cent of people living with the disease are of working age.

“For people living with Parkinson’s, there is no escape from their symptoms,” Ms Reeves said.

“We understand this can be hard to relate to, which is why we have launched this campaign – to allow Australians to step directly into the shoes of a person living with Parkinson’s.”

There is no known cure for Parkinson’s.