Big Benefits of Massage for Parkinson'sCategory: Newsworthy Notes
Parkinson’s disease is a chronic, progressive neurological disorder that causes movement-related symptoms such as tremors and rigidity. This disease affects over one million Americans, and its effects are progressively debilitating to the point a person with Parkinson’s cannot work or carry out daily tasks.
Massage has been shown to alleviate many of these symptoms, including stress, pain, and depression. Massage therapy may increase blood flow to the brain, decrease muscle stiffness, promote relaxation, and increase mobility in some people with Parkinson’s disease. Research has shown that massage can also improve gait speed by about 10%. Massage therapy for Parkinson’s disease is most effective when it is provided as a routine part of the medical care plan.
The effectiveness of massage therapy for Parkinson’s disease has been well researched. Dr. Tiffany Field, Ph.D. at the University of Miami has conducted some of the research. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Massage therapy seems to induce relaxation in most cases, which is accompanied by biological measures involving urine stress hormones. Quality of life has been shown to be improved upon various therapeutic massage styles, involving classical whole-body therapeutic massage and reflexology. Non-motor symptoms, such as sleep disturbances, pain, fatigue, anxiety and depressive symptoms have been demonstrated to be improved upon different massage techniques, including classical deep therapeutic massage, Traditional Japanese (Anma) massage, Thai massage, neuromuscular therapy and Yin Tui Na massage. Regarding motor symptoms, classical therapeutic massage, Traditional Japanese (Anma) massage, Thai massage, and neuromuscular therapy seemed to improve motor symptoms.
As of 2019, there is no evidence that massage therapy will cause adverse effects or harm to those with Parkinson’s disease.
There is a need for massage therapists who are well trained in helping those who live with this problem. In the United States, massage is the third most prevalent complementary and alternative medicine therapy after acupuncture and herbal medicine. Therefore, if you seek a massage therapist, be sure to ask for a referral and thoroughly investigate any prospective therapist’s credentials. Ask about their work with other Parkinson’s clients so you know there is a level of experience beyond school training.
Clients with Parkinson’s are encouraged to get massage therapy. Clients often relax and fall asleep during their massage therapy time. The sessions are usually 30-60 minutes long and can be done on a chair, on a bed, or on a massage table. With the session, clients can benefit from the reduction in pain, stiffness, anxiety, depression, and anger. They also can gain a better quality of life.
Linda Mac Dougall M.A., HHP, CMT is a member of PRO’s Wellness Village at ParkinsonsResource.org/the-wellness-village/directory/love-your-longevity. Her business is in Port Hueneme, California and she serves Ventura County California. She is the author of The Spirit Method of Massage for Seniors.