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You can also request a free eBook copy of Parkinson's Alternatives: Walk Better, Sleep Deeper and Move Consciously; Solutions from Nature's Sensational Medicine by Kimberly Burnham, PhD, The Nerve Whisperer, Paperback and eBook, April 15, 2012 ($9.95 value)
THESIS: Sixty hours of treatment with Integrative Manual Therapy (IMT) will considerably decrease signs and symptoms in people with Parkinson's disease (PD), including a decrease in tremors, an alleviation of pain, a speeding up of gait and improvements in respiration, facial expression, speech and mood.
OBJECTIVE: To show that IMT will improve the symptoms and function in people with PD. The purpose of this study is to contribute to the understanding of the effects of manual therapy on neurological conditions. This dissertation specifically examines the effect of IMT in PD.
METHODS: Single-Subject Research Design Case Study. The neurologist's evaluations were a month apart while the physical therapy assessments took place on the day before and the day after the two week treatment protocol. The participant also completed 6 questionnaires.
TREATMENT: In this case study 60 hours of IMT took place over a two week period (five hours each day on 12 days). Nutritional and self-care recommendations were made after the post testing.
RESULTS: The 62 year old man diagnosed four years ago with PD made improvements in virtually all assessed categories. Notable gains include a 48.6% improvement in total UPDRS scores. Schwab and England scores changed from 70% to 80% of normal function. The Up & Go Test and 10 Meter Walk showed improvements in walking speed and stride length. Lung capacity readings (a spirometer measurement) improved from 2800 cc to 3300 cc. The PDQ-39 questionnaire showed a 67% improvement in symptoms. The Medical Symptoms Questionnaire (MSQ) score improved 51.3%. The McGill Pain Questionnaire showed a 73.3% decrease in pain, primarily back and hip pain.
DISCUSSION: The results show important changes in function, pain, and general well-being. This is significant given the expected 3.1% annual increase in the UPDRS motor scores and a 3.2% decline in Hoehn and Yahr staging levels. This case study did not have a blinded control but results were compared to predictors of outcome in the medical literature. Even without a control, these findings are substantial enough to suggest further research into how IMT can be incorporated into treatment plans.
CONCLUSIONS: This is the first evidence-based study on the effects of Integrative Manual Therapy in Parkinson's disease. The improvements should serve as a stimulus to therapists to use IMT as a way to improve the client's quality of life. IMT is not a common component of rehabilitation programs, but is one that deserves more attention.