Massage and Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s Disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that involves an overall decrease of dopamine in the body. Among many things, dopamine is a chemical that regulates the control of motor functions. Symptoms of Parkinson’s generally appear gradually and increase in severity with the decline in dopamine levels. Individuals with Parkinson’s disease can experience a wide range of physical and psychological symptoms that vary from person to person. For any new patients of massage therapy, treatment plans, decisions and modifications are made based on current symptoms. Particular concerns that are common to individuals with Parkinson’s disease include but are not limited to: depression and anxiety, resting tremors, cardiovascular concerns, orthostatic intolerance (development of symptoms when standing upright), impaired communication such as cognitive dementia (or altered speech), side effects from current medications, diminished postural reflexes and stability, dysphagia (difficulty swallowing), muscle contracture and rigidity. The severity of these symptoms will determine the length of the massage, positioning, application of hydrotherapy and specific manual techniques will all be adjusted accordingly. As many of these concerns vary between individuals and are dependent on the severity and progression of their disease, dialogue between a registered massage therapist and a patient must be ongoing so treatments can be adapted as health concerns change. This can be a learning process for patient and therapist as each case is unique and evolving.