Cascade Quarterly News Archives
Aerobic Exercise and Movement Therapy are very helpful for people with Parkinson’s Disease.
Once diagnosed, treatment will include medication with a dopamine-like drug to help replace the lost dopamine. Some people with Parkinson’s may benefit from surgery, and there is more research happening every day in a search for tools that can help slow or halt the progression of this illness.
The following therapies can also help manage the symptoms:
Parkinson’s can progress at a different rate for each person. As symptoms change, medication will need to be adjusted. It is important to find a doctor who is knowledgeable about Parkinson’s, ideally a neurologist. By working with a health-care team, a treatment plan can be created that will meet the person’s individual needs.
Parkinson’s disease is a chronic neurodegenerative disease. Movement is normally controlled by dopamine, a chemical that carries signals between the nerves in the brain. When cells that normally produce dopamine die, the symptoms of Parkinson’s appear.
According to the Parkinson’s Association of Canada:
The symptoms of Parkinson’s typically include tremor, slowness and stiffness, impaired balance and rigidity of the muscles. Other symptoms include fatigue, soft speech, problems with handwriting, stooped posture, constipation and sleep disturbances.
Currently there is no cure, however you can live with Parkinson’s for years. The symptoms are treated with medication. Some people with Parkinson’s may benefit from surgery. The following therapies can also help manage the symptoms:
Parkinson’s can progress at a different rate for each person. As symptoms change, medication will need to be adjusted. As the disease progresses, non-motor symptoms may also appear, such as depression, difficulty swallowing, sexual problems or cognitive changes. It is important to find a doctor who is knowledgeable about Parkinson’s, ideally a neurologist. By working with a health-care team, a treatment plan can be created that will meet the person’s individual needs.
“Parkinson’s can progress at a different rate for each person. It is important to work with a knowledgable health-care team in order to implement a treatment plan that will meet the person’s individual needs.”
Your massage therapist is trained in a variety of techniques that can help to lessen the severity of your symptoms which allows you to feel more at ease in your body as it goes through the changes associated with Parkinson’s.
I will now discuss 5 of the more common benefits of your massage therapy sessions:
llustration of the Parkinson disease by Sir William Richard Gowers from A Manual of Diseases of the Nervous System in 1886
Decrease in tremors, temporarily – muscles become overworked when tremors are occurring, leaving the person feeling tight and fatigued, achy and sore. Massage therapy will help to lessen this tension and encourage a healthy muscle tone to be established.
Stress (mental, physical or emotional) has been shown to be a significant factor in the severity of the tremors associated with Parkinson’s disease. Since massage therapy helps to slow and relax the nervous system, stress responses are decreased, which helps to lessen the frequency and severity of tremors and other stress related symptoms.
Ease Rigidity – an interesting medical study was published in 2001 entitled ‘Pain in Parkinson’s Disease’ (Waseem, Gwinn-Hardy, Postgraduate medicine, vol 110/no 5/December 2001) The study discusses several common causes of pain for people with Parkinson’s and concludes that rigidity is the most common cause of pain. The study also concluded that massage therapy is a useful treatment in alleviating the pain. Treatment techniques aimed at improving joint mobility, both on the table and as a part of a homecare exercise program are very useful in decreasing rigidity. RMTs work gently in mobilizing joints in order to increase range of motion, improve joint health, decrease pain and ease activities of daily life.
Soothe Depression – Depression is a state of being that is linked to many causes and which results in altered physiological function in many ways. Massage therapy techniques work to optimize body functioning and can greatly assist in the treatment of depression. For example: Massage therapy increases circulation and nutrient supply to tissue cells, and increases lymphatic drainage of toxins from the body. Massage therapy decreases pain by decreasing muscle tension and joint stiffness, as well as by altering biochemistry through influences on the nervous and endocrine systems. All of these results lead to better health and well being physically, mentally and emotionally. Treatments can also incorporate very soothing techniques that aid an overall sense of wellbeing and deep relaxation. RMTs are compassionate health care providers who are committed to facilitating wellness for our patients.
Relieve Sleep and Digestive problems – The autonomic nervous system is the part of the brain that controls unconscious or automatic functions in the body. Massage therapy helps this system to balance and the benefit is an improvement in your quality of sleep and your overall digestive function. In the case of constipation, we can also incorporate abdominal massage into your treatment which will directly stimulate the intestines and assist in achieving regularity. This is also something that I teach my clients to do as homecare for self massage and is very helpful.
Individual symptoms of Parkinson’s disease vary greatly. When beginning your massage therapy program, be sure to disclose your concerns to your RMT so that treatments can best be tailored to meet your specific needs.
As a person’s body is undergoing the changes associated with Parkinson’s disease, it is most helpful to engage in relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises, visualization and meditation. The more we can encourage a relaxed nervous system, the better off we are – this goes for everyone!
In addition to focusing on relaxation techniques, it is imperative that daily activities be modified to your comfort level. Your endurance will likely change from day to day, so please pay attention to the way you feel and be sure to pace yourself.
Homecare programs are of great importance in managing any chronic condition. I encourage my clients to be actively involved in their treatments and I work with them to create therapeutic exercises that work for them. I will assist in teaching functional changes to activities of daily life so that you may be supported in the process of managing your symptoms.
Some homecare suggestions you may receive from me are regular walking or other form of aerobic exercise. To help you with balance, flexibility and coordination, yoga and tai chi will be helpful. If you are new to these types of exercises consider joining a class where you can work with an instructor who will ensure that your movements are done safely and comfortably.
Strengthening exercises may include gym equipment or classes at the rec centre. The pool and hot tub are great tools for hydrotherapy as well. Your RMT will also recommend devices to assist you with your daily life and if needed referral to other health care practitioners.
See below for an example of a homecare exercise that I have found to be useful with people who have Parkinson’s Disease.
I bring over 18 years of bodywork experience and education to the massage table!
I offer you diverse and comprehensive massage therapy sessions. Your treatment goals are foremost and your needs will be heard and addressed. I utilize both traditional and alternative treatment techniques, and recommend self care tips and exercise options that evolve with your individual healing process. My intention is to be a facilitator in the cascade of your healing process and health maintenance. I believe that within the human body is the desire and ability to be well, and through bodywork, I serve to act as a catalyst for this process.
This is your time - I encourage you to enjoy the stillness of your session, and sense the changes occurring in your body while we work - you don’t need to be entertaining or start a conversation; that being said, please recognize that I do not read minds. I expect my clients to participate in his or her experience and give feedback when there is any discomfort during the treatment.
Cascade Massage Therapy is focused on education and prevention. It is important that you know what you can do to help prevent stress, tension, and pain when you are not with me. I allow for time at the end of our session to converse, suggest self care tips and exercises that would be beneficial for you, and answer any questions that you may have.
I believe that prolonged stress, whether environmental, physical or emotional is a primary factor in dis-ease and a true obstacle to healing.
Therefore, I welcome you to a peace-filled and relaxing environment for you to experience relief from chronic pain.
Sonja Rawlings, RMT
1601 – 30th Avenue
Vernon, BC V1T 2A3
If you have specific health concerns consult your medical doctor.
The information in this newsletter is educational only and is not intended to replace the advice of your personal health care providers.
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in Vernon, BC, Canada. Serving Vernon, Coldstream,
Lavington, Armstrong, Lumby, Enderby, Salmon Arm, Sicamous, Chase,
Falkland, Kelowna and the rest of the Okanagan.