Parkinson’s disease symptoms are differentially affected by massage therapy vs. progressive muscle relaxation: a pilot study 2002 Jul; 6(3): 177-82
ABSTRACT: Sixteen adults diagnosed with idiopathic Parkinson’s disease (M age=58) received 30-min massage therapy or progressive muscle relaxation exercise sessions twice a week for 5 weeks (10 sessions total). Physicians rated participants in the massage therapy group as improved in daily living activities by the end of the study. The massaged group also rated themselves as improved in daily functioning, and having more effective and less disturbed sleep. Urine samples revealed that at the end of the 10 sessions, the massage therapy group had lower norepinephrine and epinephrine (stress hormone) levels, suggesting they were less stressed. The progressive muscle relaxation group had higher dopamine levels, which is interesting in that Parkinson’s is associated with a decrease in dopamine. The relaxation group also showed higher epinephrine levels, suggesting that although the relaxation exercises might have been beneficial, some Parkinson’s participants might have found the relaxation technique stressful.