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Massage and Parkinsons

Shake free after massage

Does massage reduce the symptoms of Parkinson's Disease? From my own experience and from what is indicated in research, yes it does.  I had the opportunity while working in Sydney where I treated a gentleman suffering from Parkinson's disease. He was at a stage where he was hospitalized and had difficulty walking, eating and caring for himself. Following a general hoistic body massage treatment he showed great improvement and reported feeling better. He was more competent walking and caring for himself for a week following the treatment.

It is also interesting to note that it was recently reported in the media that a parkinsons patient discovered that following some physical exercise, in fact that after riding a pushbike for a short time, that his symptoms greatly reduced for days afterwards.

This seems entirely logical as it both massage and exercise release more dopamine into circulation. Dopamine has many functions in the brain, including important roles in behavior and cognition, voluntary movement, motivation, punishment and reward, inhibition of prolactin production (involved in lactation and sexual gratification), sleep, mood, attention, working memory, and learning.

This is reflected in a report from Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami which concludes that: Massage improved daily functioning, increased quality of sleep and decreased stress-hormone levels in people with Parkinson's disease.

In this study, sixteen adults affected with Parkinson's disease, were randomly assigned to receive either massage therapy or progressive muscle relaxation, for 30 minutes twice a week for five weeks. The massage consisted of 15 minutes in the prone position, focusing on the back, buttocks, ribs, thighs, calves and feet; and 15 minutes in the supine position, focusing on the thighs, lower legs, feet, hands, forearms, upper arms, neck, face and head.

"These data are consistent with previous research showing improvement on activities of daily living following massage therapy, for example, for patients with multiple sclerosis and spinal-cord injuries," state the study's authors. "Together these findings suggest that massage therapy enhances functioning in progressive or degenerative central nervous system disorders or conditions."

The Touch Research Institute and the department of neurology at the University of Miami School of Medicine; Duke University Department of Pharmacology. Authors: Maria Hernandez-Reif, Ph.D., Tiffany Field, Ph.D., Shay Largie, Christy Cullen, Julia Beutler, Chris Sanders, William Weiner, Dinorah Rodriguez-Bateman, Lisette Zelaya, Saul Schanberg and Cynthia Kuhn. Originally published in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, July 2002, Vol. 6, No. 2, pp. 177-182. A joint research study conducted by the Atlanta School of Massage and Emory University examined the effects of neuromuscular therapy (NMT) on symptoms of Parkinson's disease. The research report of  “Neuromuscular Therapy Improves Symptoms of Parkinson's Disease,” in the print edition of MASSAGE Magazine's April 2007 issue.
Trager® therapy reduced the level of evoked stretch responses in Parkinson’s disease patients, indicating a reduction in rigidity. Montreal Neurological Institute and McGill Centre for Studies on Aging, McGill University; Concordia University Department of Exercise Science; University of Quebec Department of Kinanthropology. Authors: Christian Duval, Denis Lafontaine, Jacques Herbert, Alain Leroux, Ph.D., Michel Panisset, M.D., and Jean P. Boucher, Ph.D. Originally published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, Sept. 2002, Vol. 25, No. 7, pp. 455-464.


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