Can therapeutic Thai massage improve upper limb muscle strength in Parkinson’s disease? An objective randomized-controlled trial.

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Can therapeutic Thai massage improve upper limb muscle strength in Parkinson’s disease? An objective randomized-controlled trial.

J Tradit Complement Med. 2018 Apr;8(2):261-266

Authors: Miyahara Y, Jitkritsadakul O, Sringean J, Aungkab N, Khongprasert S, Bhidayasiri R

Abstract
Muscle weakness is a frequent complaint amongst Parkinson’s disease (PD) patients. However, evidence-based therapeutic options for this symptom are limited. We objectively measure the efficacy of therapeutic Thai massage (TTM) on upper limb muscle strength, using an isokinetic dynamometer. A total of 60 PD patients with muscle weakness that is not related to their ‘off’ periods or other neurological causes were equally randomized to TTM intervention (n = 30), consisting of six TTM sessions over a 3-week period, or standard medical care (no intervention, n = 30). Primary outcomes included peak extension and flexion torques. Scale-based outcomes, including Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) and visual analogue scale for pain (VAS) were also performed. From baseline to end of treatment, patients in the intervention group showed significant improvement on primary objective outcomes, including peak flexion torque (F = 30.613, p < .001) and peak extension torque (F = 35.569, p < .001) and time to maximal flexion speed (F = 14.216, p = .001). Scale-based assessments mirrored improvements in the objective outcomes with a significant improvement from baseline to end of treatment of the UPDRS-bradykinesia of a more affected upper limb (F = 9.239, p = .005), and VAS (F = 69.864, p < .001) following the TTM intervention, compared to the control group. No patients reported adverse events in association with TTM. Our findings provide objective evidence that TTM used in combination with standard medical therapies is effective in improving upper limb muscle strength in patients with PD. Further studies are needed to determine the efficacy of TTM on other motor and non-motor symptoms in PD.

PMID: 29736380 [PubMed]

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