Parkinson’s Disease is a progressive nervous system disorder characterized by tremors, muscle stiffness and slowed movements. Michael J. Fox’s diagnosis dramatically increased public awareness of the condition, and recently it has been reported that Robin Williams was in the early stages of the disease.
Parkinson’s Disease is primarily treated with medication, but massage and exercise should also be a part of the treatment plan.
Massage and exercise both produce similar benefits, increased circulation and muscle flexibility.
“The benefits of massage are recognized by many people with Parkinson’s disease,” according to the National Parkinson Foundation, “. . specific benefits may include: reduction in rigidity and tremor, improvement in sleep, increase in daily stamina, reduction in anxiety, increased feeling of relaxation.” www.parkinson.org
The benefits of massage for Parkinson’s patients has been proven scientifically. “Massage improved daily functioning, increased quality of sleep and decreased stress-hormone levels in people with Parkinson’s disease,” according to a recent study by the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami. “these findings suggest that massage therapy enhances functioning in progressive or degenerative central nervous system disorders or conditions.”
Massage can be customized for each patient, based on their current condition and level of comfort.
Massage can be done on a massage chair, with the patient clothed, in their home or at the massage studio. Table massage allows for more detailed work on troublesome areas. Weekly sessions allow for more consistent results.
Self-care is important too, such as taking medications on time, drinking enough water every day, and getting regular exercise.
“Aside from working with your doctor on an ongoing plan primarily involving medications, one of the most important things you can do is exercise,” according to The Michael J. Fox Foundation For Parkinson’s Research. “Many people cite swimming, walking and yoga as favorites. The universal benefits of exercise in helping everyone feel better and improving overall health are well-documented. There is evidence that exercise may hold specific benefits for people with Parkinson’s in staying active and relatively limber, and improving balance and motor coordination.” www.michaeljfox.org
“Exercising may increase your muscle strength, flexibility and balance,” according to the Mayo Clinic. “Exercise can also improve your well-being and reduce depression or anxiety . . . try exercises such as walking, swimming, dancing, water aerobics or stretching.” The Mayo Clinic also lists massage therapy, acupuncture, tai chi and yoga as helpful activities. www.mayoclinic.org