Massage Therapy Treatment and Outcomes for a Patient with Parkinson’s Disease: a Case Report
Introduction: Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a complex neurological disorder. The disease is progressive and, in time, results in severe disability. Many patients turn to massage in an attempt to alleviate symptoms of pain and rigidity, though the effects of massage with respect to PD are not well studied. This case adds one more instance in which massage therapy has provided temporary respite from resting tremor, one unrelenting symptom of PD.
Objective: To determine if massage therapy can produce favorable outcomes with respect to the severity of rigidity and tremor in a patient with PD.
Case Presentation: A 63-year-old female patient with idiopathic, long-standing, Hoehn-Yahr Stage 4 PD was treated with massage therapy five times over the course of six weeks. A SPES/SCOPA Motor Impairments rating scale was used to measure rigidity and tremor pre- and post-treatment, to gauge treatment effectiveness. The massage treatments consisted of deep longitudinal stroking, muscle squeezing techniques, passive range of motion movements, and general relaxation techniques to encourage a soothing environment while promoting a decrease in muscular tone and hyperactivity. Massage therapy administration was by a student near the end of her two year diploma.
Results: The results obtained indicated that massage therapy treatment had a positive effect on reducing resting and postural tremor in a patient with long-standing PD. The treatment was also effective in temporarily reducing rigidity during treatment, but did not produce a lasting effect.
Conclusion: Further study is required; however, the results of this case were consistent with the limited research available on the subject of massage therapy and Parkinson’s disease, in that positive change with respect to tremor—and to a lesser degree, rigidity—were achieved with focused, intentional treatment.