Spa therapy for Parkinson’s disease (PD) patients is more cost-effective than conventional treatment alone, and results in improved quality of life, according to a recent study.
“Clinical and Economic Analysis of Spa Therapy in Parkinson’s Disease” was conducted by Christine Brefel-Courbon, M.D.; Karine Desboeuf, M.D.; Claire Thalamas, M.D.; Monique Galitzky, M.D.; Jean-Michel Senard, M.D., Ph.D.; Olivier Rascol, M.D., Ph.D.; and Jean-Louis Montastruc, M.D., Ph.D., at the University Hospital in Toulouse, France.
Thirty-one Parkinson’s patients were divided into two groups: immediate spa-therapy group and delayed spa-therapy group. Those in the immediate spa-therapy group had three weeks of spa therapy and 17 weeks of routine drug therapy (spa period), followed by 20 weeks of routine drug therapy alone (non-spa period) Subjects in the delayed spa-therapy group had the reverse, with 20 weeks of routine drug therapy preceding the spa period.
Spa therapy was provided at the spa resort of Ussat Les Bains. It included thermal baths, drinking mineral water, showers, underwater massage every morning six days a week, physiotherapy three afternoons a week, and speech and relaxation therapy two afternoons a week.
Effectiveness was assessed with quality-of-life scales, motor-function scale and a psychological questionnaire, at baseline, four weeks and 20 weeks.
At four weeks, according to the Parkinson’s Disease Quality of Life Scale, stigma and communication were significantly improved in the spa period, and all other dimensions, except social support, tended to be improved as well.
“Spa therapy significantly improved two dimensions (stigma and communication) that have been shown to be of considerable concern to progression of disease in PD patients,” state the study’s authors.
According to the Medical Outcomes Short Form, another assessment of quality of life, physical and mental health were also significantly improved at four weeks in the spa period.
At 20 weeks, there were no significant differences between the spa and non-spa period according to either quality-of-life survey.
Motor-function, as assessed by a doctor with no knowledge of the study, showed only slightly decreased complications. The General Health Questionnaire, a psychological evaluation, indicated that thermal treatment significantly reduces psychological distress in PD patients.
“Concerning efficacy, our study showed that spa therapy improved some aspects of PD patients’ quality of life and their perception of psychological well being,” state the study’s authors.
As for the economic analysis, direct medical costs, such as hospitalization, outpatient fees, drug therapy, ancillary care and spa therapy, were recorded throughout each 20-month period by an investigator.
“Our results indicated that spa therapy decreases health related expenditure in PD,” state the study’s authors. “The cost of spa therapy was counteracted by a reduction in other medical costs, particularly ancillary care, being 1.6 times less expensive.”
Source: University Hospital, Toulouse, France. Authors: Christine Brefel-Courbon, M.D.; Karine Desboeuf, M.D.; Claire Thalamas, M.D.; Monique Galitzky, M.D.; Jean-Michel Senard, M.D., Ph.D.; Olivier Rascol, M.D., Ph.D.; and Jean-Louis Montastruc, M.D., Ph.D. Originally published in Movement Disorders, 2003, Vol. 18, No. 5, pp. 578-584.