How Massage therapy Can Help Cope with Parkinson’s Disease

How Massage therapy Can Help Cope with Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects predominately dopamine-producing neurons in a specific area of the brain. It affects 500,000 people in the US. Symptoms generally develop slowly over years which may include:

  • “At rest” tremors
  • Slowness of movement
  • Limb rigidity
  • Walking or balance problems

There are also non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s which can include apathy, depression, loss of the sense of smell and other cognitive problems.

The primary cause of Parkinson’s remains unknown. Although there is no cure, and the disease is not fatal, its complications can be serious. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) rated complications from Parkinson’s as the 14th cause of death in the US.

How massage therapy helps

A Parkinson’s patient’s muscles are constantly subjected to contractions which do not give them the opportunity for rest and relaxation.  This can lead to decreased oxygen to those muscles.  Massage therapy can help to increase blood flow and oxygen, alleviate tension, and help facilitate movement. Over time, massage can help to enhance a bit of control and mobility.

In 2002, the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami joined forces with Duke University researchers to determine if massage therapy had any effects on a group of patients with Parkinson’s disease.  Adult Parkinson’s patients in the study received two, 30-minute massages a week for five weeks.  Upon completion of the study, they experienced improved daily functioning, increased sleep quality and a reduction in stress-hormone levels.

If you know anyone with Parkinson’s who could benefit from massage therapy, please contact us:

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