Value of Massage for People with Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease, which is also referred to as Parkinsonism is a disorder of the central nervous system, which progressively degenerates over time. In addition to its degeneration of the motor skills, Parkinson’s disease also causes rigidity of the muscles and stiffness of the body.

Tremors, slow movements, rigidity, poor balance, and difficulty in walking accompany this disease. Medications have been known to control some of the symptoms of the disease but many specialists believe that massage therapy aids patients afflicted with the disease. As such, massage therapy has been highly recommended and many patients have benefited from the positive effects of the treatment. There are many ways in which massage therapy has been found to be useful and are mentioned below.

Benefits of massage therapy for people with Parkinson’s

1. Reduction in muscle rigidity

When the brain’s production of dopamine is diminished, motor system nerves are unable to control the body coordination and movements. Massage therapy therefore becomes a natural choice for alleviating the muscle stiffness and rigidity. It is considered safe bodywork as long as the patient feels sensations on the area being massaged. A study titled “Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms are Reduced by Massage Therapy and Progressive Muscle Exercises,” conducted by researchers from the University of Miami and Duke University has revealed that Parkinson’s patients that were given 15 minutes of massage in the prone position and 15 minutes in the supine position showed marked improvement in the functioning of the degenerative spots. With massage therapy, stiffness and rigidity of the muscles are reduced as the nerves begin to relax.

2. Improved blood circulation

Whether for Parkinson’s disease or for any ‘normal’ stiffness of the body, massage has been found to be beneficial for tired muscles. When massage therapy is given to Parkinson’s patients, there is lessening of muscle tension, which helps blood vessels to dilate, and enhances the circulation of blood in the body. The improved blood circulation in the body helps to calm the nervous system, which in turn brings down the tremors evident in such patients.

3. Improved sleep pattern

Many Parkinson’s disease patients have poor sleeping patterns and this in turn affects them physically. Since massage therapy improves blood circulation and reduces muscular tension, this can often allow patients to sleep better. Massage can enable a restful sleep up to 10 hours and there is no wakefulness or restlessness during sleep. With proper sleep and rest the patient suffers less from the effects of the disease.

4. Improved physical stamina

As a brief from the National Parkinson Foundation titled “Massage Therapy: Is it for you?” suggests: one of the specific benefits that massage therapy can deliver for PD patients is an “increase in daily stamina.” As with some of the other aforementioned benefits, increased stamina can have a trickle down positive impact on other patient symptoms including an improved ability to exercise on a regular basis, which in turn will deliver other benefits such as mental and physical relaxation.

5. Confidence of the patient

Massage therapy not only improves blood circulation and sleep patterns, it also reduces the level of stress hormones. A lower level of stress can reduce the incidence of going into tremors or turning rigid and can improve the confidence level of the patient by a marked degree.

IMPORTANT: As all people are different, for maximum safety, anyone considering massage treatments or Parkinson’s disease should consult their physician before beginning massage, exercise or other alternative therapies for their recommendations and to prevent any contraindications.

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About the author:
Alia Haley is a blogger by profession. She loves writing on technology, health and parenting. A regular contributor to Pinstripe Magazine, some of her recent writing include an article on Exercise-induced asthma for DIYHealth, “Learning Toys for Toddlers” for Parenting Clan, “Social Media Policy” for Bloggodown.

 

Bookmarks for Parkinson’s e-Patients

 

e-Patient Dave

ePatient Dave (aka Dave DeBronkart) is one of my personal heroes. While many pay lip service to helping patients to help themselves– Dave is a synonym for “patient advocate,” who through his myriad activities, speaking engagements and informative epatientdave.com website is a tireless champion for patient engagement and source of ideas and inspiration on how to use the Web for better patient outcomes.

This week Dave up a post on his website on e-Patient Resources for Parkinson’s Disease, which provides some basic info that’s worth a look from anyone interested in PD. As I’ve known Dave for several years, I reached out to him to provide a more in-depth (but, admittedly incomplete) listing of some of the top online resources for people with Parkinson’s disease, as well as PD caregivers and professionals. Here’s (for those who follow The Theracycle Blog) is the list of Bookmarks for Parkinson’s e-Patients, that we prepared and sent to ePatient Dave…

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Resource Guide for Young Onset Parkinson’s

While the average age of onset of PD is estimated at 60 years of age, between 5-10% of Parkinson’s patients contract “Young Onset” Parkinson’s disease (between the ages of 20 and 50).

The American Parkinson Disease Association (APDA) is the only Parkinson’s association in the U.S. with a Center dedicated to meeting the needs of those with young onset Parkinson’s disease.

The Theracycle Blog went to Julie Sacks, LCSW — Director, APDA National Young Onset Center in Winfield, IL (USA) for her advice and insights for the YOPD population:

Julie shares this comment:

“Discovering that you have Parkinson’s disease, especially when you are young, is overwhelming. Even if you’ve suspected it for some time (and it’s a relief to finally know what you’re dealing with) a confirmed diagnosis is still a shock and many people don’t know where to turn for support.”

In addition to educating people about the disease itself, the APDA National Young Onset Center ( http://www.youngparkinsons.org) has an online Resource Guide that consists of low-cost or no-cost programs and services available to help people manage other areas of concern such as: healthcare, mental health, insurance, employment, disability and finances.  It is easily accessible online at www.youngparkinsons.org/resource-guide.

This Resource Guide was created in order to direct people with Parkinson’s to reliable, affordable services. It was also designed to be interactive, so don’t hesitate to share your experience(s) with currently listed resources or recommend new ones.  The more involved the community is in growing the Resource Guide the more helpful it will be.

Julie let us know that members of the Center’s staff are also available Monday – Friday (9am-5pm CST) to discuss resources by phone at 877- 223-3801.

Beyond its informative website and Resource Guide, YoungParkinsons.org also maintains the excellent Young Parkinson’s Blog and publishes a free monthly eNewsletter.

Dedicated since 1961 to “ease the burden and find a cure for Parkinson’s disease,” the APDA is a major leader in research/education/public education and support for patients and families with PD. The Theracycle Team highly commends the APDA and its National Young Onset Center for their good works, and recommends their helpful resources and tools.

 

Davis Phinney Foundation: Exercise helps people with Parkinson’s “live better” today

The Triumphant & Victorious Davis Phinney-- Theracycle's Hero

As a company who builds exercise bikes for people with Parkinson’s and other movement disorders, it should come as no surprise that Davis Phinney is a hero of ours!

For those who don’t know of him, Colorado-based Davis Phinney is a retired professional cyclist (and 1984 Olympic medalist) who at the age of 40 was diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s 12 years ago. A perpetual motion machine, Davis has led bicycle tours and conducted cycle-related fundraisers for PD research for many years.

In 2004, he founded The Davis Phinney Foundation (DPF), which is dedicated to helping people with Parkinson’s disease to “live well today,” through educational programs, events and, the funding of research focused on exercise, speech and other quality of life therapies.

DPF-funded research includes support for multiple projects directed by Theracycle’s own official Medical Advisor, Boston University Prof. Terry Ellis, PT, PhD, NCS including her 2010 study: “Factors Associated With Exercise Behavior in People With Parkinson Disease.”

For all these reasons, it is with great pride, that we share this first guest blog post from the tremendous team at the Davis Phinney Foundation — among the most dedicated and enthusiastic Parkinson’s exercise ambassadors we know!

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Bicycling helping people with Parkinson’s curb their symptoms

Image Credit: Matt McClain/Washington Post

As its title suggests, a January 10, 2012 feature article in The Washington Post (Bicycling and other exercise may help people with Parkinson’s curb their symptoms,) states “while it cannot cure Parkinson’s, heavy-duty exercise shows promise for countering, even delaying, the inability to move that the disease causes.”

In her article, Post reporter Alice Reid details results that medical researchers and Parkinson’s patients are seeing from regular, intense exercise (such as rowing and cycling)

The article notes that the National Parkinson Foundation “emphasizes exercise as an important tool to fight the disease,” and “The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research has funded close to $3 million in exercise research.”

Jay Alberts, the Cleveland Clinic researcher best known for his landmark work on “Forced Exercise” (cycling for Parkinson’s therapy) is quoted throughout the piece. A ‘just-completed study’ conducted by Alberts in which patients rode indoor bikes for exercise benefits is featured prominently.

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Susie’s Theracycle Story: M.S. Cycling Therapy at Home

Theracycle Motorized Exercise Bike

One of the most fulfilling things about being part of our work is receiving unsolicited messages from customers on how Theracycle exercise has improved the quality of their lives.

Susie Feldmeyer of Pennsylvania has been living with progressive Multiple Sclerosis for 11 years, and wrote us recently saying:

“My life has changed IMMENSELY since receiving the Theracycle!! 
I have been on the bike everyday but one, and every single thing I do has changed for the better.”

When Susie’s nurse practitioner recently told her she loves her Theracycle so much she should sell them for us, Susie replied saying “If I could drive I would be going to every physical therapy and Neurologist office this side of Pennsylvania.”

Whether for MS, for Parkinson’s disease or stroke — Theracycle customers have weighed in with enthusiastic testimonials on benefits they’ve seen from Theracycle exercise. From people with movement disorders like spinal cord injuries, arthritis or obesity who are Theracycling at home, to physicians, physical therapists and fitness specialties who recommend it to their patients — the Theracycle is getting rave reviews and powering inspiring stories of individual determination!

While we try to be ‘non-commercial’ on The Theracycle Blog, we can’t resist sharing Susie Feldmeyer’s Theracycle Story, in her own inspiring words…

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Art & Laughter as Parkinson’s Therapies

Anne's "Painting with Parkinson's" Group

Innovative therapies for people with Parkinson’s disease are originating and being practiced all over the world. From Australia via the Pacific Northwest comes this write-up “Art, laughter are therapy for PD group.” Written by Anne Atkin — volunteer, public speaker, ambassador and librarian with Australia-based Parkinson’s Victoria. as well as author of a new book: “Living and Laughing with Parkinsons”

Anne began her first “Painting with Parkinson’s” group in 2007, parlaying her love of art and experience as a teacher into benefit for others with Parkinson’s. Anne’s article was orginally published in the Nov/Dec 2011 issue of The Parkinson’s Post, bi-monthly newsletter of the Northwest Parkinson’s Foundation (www.nwpf.org). The mission of this Seattle-based organization is “to establish an optimal quality of life for the Northwest Parkinson’s community through awareness, education, advocacy and care.”

Special thanks to Ruth Egger of the NWPF for permission to reprint the article.

Here’s Anne Atkin’s article “Art, laughter are therapy for PD group”

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Parkinson’s Nutrition: Concerns & Recommendations

The Holiday Season is over!   With the New Year, it’s time to get back to healthy eating!

Proper nutrition for people with Parkinson’s disease is a recurring theme here at The Theracycle Blog.  Thus we’re glad to post a very informative write up on concerns and recommendations for Parkinson’s nutrition, courtesy of the California Parkinson’s Group (www.calparkinsons.org), whose mission is to “foster support and collaboration among friends and families with young onset Parkinson’s Disease through dialogue, education and involvement in the medical research community.”

Be sure to visit the CPG for a collection of useful PD materials and to participate in their forums: www.calparkinsons.org

Don't forget to eat your prunes!

Your mother always told you to “EAT YOUR PRUNES!” Read on to learn why and other helpful insights in “Significance of Nutrition in Parkinson’s” from our friends at the CPG.

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