Researchers from the Atlanta School of Massage in Atlanta, Georgia find that neuromuscular therapy (NMT) improves motor and non-motor symptoms in Parkinson's disease (PD), and the effects are more durable for motor symptoms .. Researchers from the Atlanta School of Massage Atlanta, Georgia examined the effects of neuromuscular therapy (NMT) on motor and non-motor symptoms in Parkinson''s disease (PD). Thirty-six subjects with PD were randomly assigned to NMT or music relaxation (MR, or active control). Subjects received treatment twice a week for 4 weeks.

Testing was conducted at baseline, after final treatment, and 8 days after final treatment. Primary outcome measures were the Motor subscale of the United Parkinson Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) and the Clinical Global Impression scale (CGI-Change). Secondary outcome measures included a PD-specific quality of life scale (PDQ-39), quantitative measures of motor function, and severity scales for anxiety and depression symptoms.

NMT resulted in a significant and sustained improvement in the Motor subscale of the UPDRS (P < or = 0.0001), most notable in the tremor scores. Also improved 1 week after the last treatment were the CGI scores (P = 0.007) and the finger-tapping speed (P = 0.001).

The MR active control group had a slight improvement in tremor but evidenced no other change in motor function. Both groups exhibited a modest improvement in quality of life immediately after the last treatment. This effect was sustained for 8 days only in the MR group. In the nonmotor domains, the MR group evidenced improvements in mood (P = 0.001) and anxiety (P = 0.002), whereas NMT had no effect on mood (P = 0.09), and its initial effect on anxiety (P = 0.0009) dissipated after 8 days (P = 0.40).

Group differences for UPDRS motor score and patient CGI-Change were superior in the NMT compared to the MR group. There was no group difference in PDQ-39 scores or in nonmotor measures. The findings suggest that NMT can improve motor and selected nonmotor symptoms in PD and that this effect is more durable for the motor symptoms. The results of this pilot study warrant larger controlled studies to examine dose range, durability, and mechanisms of NMT in PD function.

Citation: Craig LH, Svircev A, Haber M, Juncos JL. Controlled pilot study of the effects of neuromuscular therapy in patients with Parkinson''s disease. Movement Disorders. 2006 Dec; 21 (12): pages 2127-33.