Massage for Multiple Sclerosis patients

It's an unpredictable, progressive disease of the central nervous system


JACKSONVILLE, Fla – Multiple Sclerosis a chronic disease affecting the central nervous system. people with MS can have fatigue, muscle pain or weakness and difficulty with motion. there is no cure, but researchers at one of the country's top rehabilitation institutes are studying massage techniques to see if m-s patients can find relief.

Shavonne Thurman was in her twenties when numbness in her abdomen and double vision sent her to the doctor. she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis which has slowly progressed.

"It comes, it goes, you never know.  You just wake up and it's like oop! Today my legs don't want to work," says Thurman.

Shavonne is taking part in a clinical trial, testing the effects of massage on MS patients.

"In MS in particular the myelin around your nerves is affected. So it sets up a kind of a feedback loop that makes your muscles tighten that's not under your control," says Christina  Manella.
Manella is a PT Massage Therapist at Shepherd Center in Atlanta.    

For this study, therapists are using swedish massage techniques, long, even strokes that are easy to reproduce. 25 patients will receive therapy once a week for six weeks.

Researchers want to measure the impact of massage on spasticity, involuntary muscle tightness.

"How long you feel the effect is going to be different for each person," says Manella.

Deborah Backus is the director of m-s research. she also wants to know if massage helps patients manage the stress of having a chronic disease.
"MS it's been shown that the fatigue, the pain, it really is closely related with depression, psychological stress, which really impacts the quality of life," says Backus.

"The massages helped to relax and clear my body so I wasn't stressed for the rest of the day," says Thurman.

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