Integrative Health Care + Parkinson’s
what can I do for you? This is the third in a series this week.
Affecting nearly 200,000 Americans every year, Parkinson’s disease is another special condition that significantly interferes with a person’s daily living activities. Traditional treatments include dopamine boosters, antidepressants and antitremor medications. However, some new findings are showing that integrating massage therapy with some of the more traditional pharmacological approaches can be beneficial to people with Parkinson’s.
The Chulalongkorn Center of Excellence for Parkinson’s Disease & Related Disorders has reaffirmed the value of integrative medicine with a 2018 study on therapeutic Thai massage (TTM). Splitting a total of 60 Parkinson’s patients, 30 who received six sessions of TTM in three weeks and 30 who received standard care, the study compared the muscle strength of the two groups. The findings were encouraging. “Our findings provide objective evidence that TTM used in combination with standard medical therapies is effective in improving upper limb muscle strength in patients with PD,” researchers explain.11
A survey done by the Department of Neurology at the University Medical Center Hamburg- Eppendorf furthered the claim that anti-parkinsonian drugs are incomplete without integrative therapies like massage. Of the 181 outpatients with Parkinson’s surveyed, only 33.6 percent found anti-parkinsonian drugs alone helpful. In contrast, 96.3 percent and 89.5 percent of participants found rehabilitative therapy and physiotherapy, both of which involve massage therapy, most effective.12 Once again, this suggests that massage can serve as an essential factor in the health care formula when practiced alongside other integrative approaches.
Additionally, a study done by Glasgow Caledonian in 2016 suggests abdominal massage can help with troublesome symptoms of Parkinson’s, like constipation.13
Research continues to show that an integrative approach to many chronic health conditions is not only effective, but resonates with the patients who are looking for ways to relieve some troublesome symptoms. For massage therapists, that is a big opportunity. “Simply put, traditional medicine can only do so much,” Tatninov believes. “It can only do so much for the pain that accompanies these diseases, such as the imbalances that come with scoliosis. Massage has a direct, immediate effect and can help fill in the holes in care.”
Jeana Anderson, C.N.H.P., LMT, CEIM, CBS
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