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.

 

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.

 

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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Holiday Recommendations from an MD with PD

One of our favorite resources for events, programs and general information for the Parkinson’s community is the American Parkinson Disease Association.
Here’s a timely post from their National Young Onset Center written by Marshall “Dopadoc” Davidson— a New Jersey-based M.D. who was diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson’s disease back in 2005, when he was 44.

Beyond this article, Marshall runs a blog called “Dopadoc’s Parkinson’s Journal”  http://www.dopadoc.com and is worth a follow on Twitter: @dopadoc.

Here’s Marshall Davidson’s “New Years and Holiday Recommendations for Parkinson’s Sufferers”

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Contact Congress Today to Save SBIR

Call or Email Congress NOW to Save SBIR

If you’ve been following the Theracycle Blog, you may know that we recently received a hard-to-land NIH-SBIR grant to fund research and product development of new Theracycles to benefit people with Parkinson’s disease..

What you may not know (but should)–  is that the 30 year old SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) program is a political hot potato on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Of real concern to us is the possibility of the expiration of SBIR programs on December 16, 2011!!

For all of you who share our belief in the importance of continued federal funding of SBIR, please read this urgent appeal from U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu with her clarion call for us to call or email our U.S. Representative to express our strong support to save SBIR…

Please Tweet this message to “Contact Congress Today to Save SBIR”  http://bit.ly/v01T87

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Theracycle: Part of Boston’s Leadership in Life Sciences

Theracycles "Made in Massachusetts" Help Drive Life Sciences Innovation

An 11/29/11 article in Mass High Tech titled “Report: Boston area is top U.S. life sciences hub” cites research from real estate services firm JonesLaSalle that
rates the metropolitan Boston area as the #1 region for established and emerging life sciences businesses (in comparison to other parts of the United States).

An excerpt from the JonesLaSalle 2011 Global Life Sciences Cluster Report reads “The [Boston] area enjoys seven times the number of workers in biotech R&D than the national average.” The area has more than 85,000 high-tech research employees and more than 340,000 hospital and medical employees.

The Mass High Tech article notes the Report “also highlights Massachusetts as the recipient home of 13 percent of all National Institutes of Health funding, with five of the top eight NIH-funded hospitals in the U.S. and the top five NIH-funded universities.”

As an NIH-funded Massachusetts small business, The Exercycle Company is proud to be part and parcel of the Boston-area’s preeminence as the top region for life sciences in the country.  While our operations might be considered small in comparison to some of the med-tech giants that operate in the Bay State — growing demand for our Theracycle (which powers proven exercise therapy for Parkinson’s disease), shows that we’re movin’ up!

Is Exercise the New Drug for Parkinson’s Disease?

 In our earlier post, “Delay the Disease – Exercise to Fight Parkinson’s Symptoms” you met David Zid and Jackie Russell, the founders of Delay the Disease—an exercise program developed specifically for people with Parkinson’s disease.

Here in her first guest post for the Theracycle Blog, Jackie Russell provides her expert opinion on the topic “Is Exercise the New Drug for Parkinson’s Disease?”

 

 

 

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Delay the Disease – Exercise to Fight Parkinson’s Symptoms

Delay the Disease is a fitness plan and community-based exercise program designed to empower people with Parkinson’s disease (PD) to optimize their physical function.  Originating in Columbus, Ohio in 2007, Delay The Disease is quickly becoming a national phenomenon in the Parkinson’s prevention field, and is starting to become internationally acknowledged.

Delay the Disease founders (David Zid BA, ACE, APG and Jackie Russell, RN, BSN, CNOR) have expertise in working with individuals diagnosed with PD and offer training to other health care professionals nationally.  This program is based on current evidenced-based research, and Zid’s extensive experience with one/on/one training of people with PD.  Their goal is to demonstrate how exercise can change symptoms, foster optimism and allow individuals to maintain independence.  They believe that fighting this disease with hope is the key.

David and Jackie have spoken to over 20,000 People with Parkinson’s (PWP) and their families— at symposia, continuing education courses, and PWP workshops.

As PD affects the entire family, their programs focus on helping the individual, caring for the caregiver, and educating other healthcare professionals about the importance of Parkinson’s–specific exercise and therapy. They are passionate and enthusiastic that PD does not need to define a person; it can be managed with the appropriate “tools in the tool box of treatment”. And, as Jackie comments regularly “exercise is a very important tool.”

Delay the Disease is available in a book, and 2 DVDs. Learn more about Delay the Disease at www.delaythedisease.com.  Books and DVDs can be ordered from the website, or through Amazon.

Lianna Marie – Super Parkinson’s Family Caregiver

Lianna Marie & Her Mom (Val)

In recognition of National Family Caregivers Month, Theracycle would like to single out someone who stands out as an extraordinary caregiver:

Lianna Marie of Bellingham, WA, whose mother Val was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease back in 1991. Since then, beyond providing extraordinary care for her mother, Lianna has become an extraordinary force of nature, driven to help families through their Parkinson’s journeys.

Among Lianna’s contributions:

  • Author and publisher of a valuable eBook:
    “Everything You Really Need to Know About Parkinson’s Disease”
    For $27 this book and the related bonus content that comes with a purchase, Lianna answers a huge number of common questions about life with PD, as well as tips, advice, stories, and words of encouragement and inspiration
  • Host and Moderator of the Parkinsons Disease Forum
    A vibrant online community, where people with Parkinson’s and those who care about them can connect online get help, advice, friendship and support.
  • Blogger and Editor of the AllAboutParkinsons.com Blog
    Beyond providing a platform for the Parkinsons Disease Forum, Lianna’s AllAboutParkinson.com blog serves up a steady stream of news and information, resource links and articles about PD.  This is definitely one to add to your blog list, and we’ll be adding it soon to the Theracycle bloglist of best Parkinson’s blogs!

Theracycle honors Lianna’s labors of love and her extraordinary example of a model caregiver. In recognition of Lianna’s past and ongoing efforts and in celebration National Family Caregivers Month, here’s her article 7 Helpful Tips To Help You Care For The Person You Know Or Love.”

Keep it up Lianna!