E S E A R C H
Reduces Symptoms of Parkinson's Disease
Massage improved daily
functioning, increased quality of sleep and decreased stress-hormone
levels in people with Parkinson's disease, according to a recent
"Parkinson's Disease Symptoms are
Reduced by Massage Therapy and Progressive Muscle Exercises,"
was conducted by the Touch Research Institute at the University
of Miami, along with staff from the university's neurology department
and Duke University's pharmacology department.
Sixteen adults diagnosed with Parkinson's
disease, a chronic disease of the central nervous system characterized
by tremor, muscle weakness and rigidity, 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.
The progressive muscle relaxation consisted
of subjects, guided by a cassette tape, tightening and relaxing
their muscles while lying on their back.
On the first and last days of the study,
urine samples were collected; participants completed self-reports
on daily functioning, sleep and fatigue; and physicians evaluated
The Activities of Daily Life Scale, which
measures the amount of daily activities a person with Parkinson's
disease can perform, was used by both the physicians and the participants
to assess daily functioning.
A 15-item sleep scale was used to gauge
subjects' quality of sleep and levels of fatigue, with options ranging
from "did not awaken" and "had no trouble sleeping"
to "was awake 10 hours" and "had a lot of trouble
Urine samples were collected to determine
participants' stress-hormone levels.
According to the physicians and the subjects'
self-reports, daily functioning improved for those in the massage-therapy
"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 urine samples revealed a decrease
in the stress hormones norepinephrine and epinephrine for the massage-therapy
group and an increase in dopamine and epinephrine for the progressive-relaxation
"These findings suggest that progressive
muscle relaxation exercises may increase dopamine levels, which
have been associated with both a progression of the disease and
a slowing of the disease," state the study's authors.
Both groups reported more effective sleep
by the end of the study, but the massage group alone reported less
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.
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