I believe it.. Do you?
A novel non-traditional physical therapy method is available for advanced Parkinson's disease (PD) patients that do not respond well to medications such as L-dopamine. Scientists from the Sun Life Financial Movement Disorders Research and Rehabilitation Centre from Ontario, Canada have shown that short term whole body vibration therapy significantly improves the clinical symptoms (loss of gait, tremors and akinesia) of PD patients. In this clinical study, a sample population of 40 PD patients were subject to intensive therapy for a few weeks using a Physioacoustic Chair, an sophisticated device containing speakers that are strategically placed throughout the chair in order to deliver programmed low frequency sound waves throughout the body of the patient.
This study is remarkable in the sense that acoustic therapy had a significant impact on the well being and quality of life of PD patients. In brief, the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS), gait assessments and upper limb control tests showed significant improvements on gait stability and posture, increased stepping time and speed on the peg-board task, a significant decrease in tremors and less rigidity in PD patients receiving whole body vibration therapy compared to a control group that received no therapy. More importantly, this study showed that whole body vibration therapy may also be applied to PD patients that do not respond well to L-dopamine medication or deep brain stimulation, a complicated risky surgery that involves delivering mild electrical shocks to the brain via implanted electrodes. The latter technique is used as a last resort to stabilize tremors and rigidity in PD patients.
Whole body acoustic stimulation vs. conventional physical therapy for treating PD
Before this study, another previous study conducted about a year ago showed that whole vibration therapy is even more effective in reversing many of the clinical symptoms of PD patients compared to conventional physical therapy. Specifically, this particular study showed that whole body vibration therapy improved equilibrium and gait four weeks after undergoing an intensive three week regimen consisting of 15 minutes a day for five days a week.
Remarkably, this study quantitatively also suggests that whole body vibration therapy is more efficient (25% more efficient) than conventional physical therapy for partially reversing clinical symptoms in PD patients that do not respond well to L-dopamine. It will be interesting to know whether a combined therapy that uses both whole body and conventional intervention techniques has an additive/ synergistic positive effect in reversing clinical PD symptoms compared to single treatment intervention.