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Help for Parkinson’s Disease – Guided Imagery Improves Coping with Motor Fluctuations

16 Jun

Researchers from the Technion in Haifa, Israel, assessed the efficacy of relaxation and guided imagery audios in helping Parkinson’s Disease patients cope with motor fluctuation.
In a prospective case cohort pilot, PD patients underwent (i) a relaxation session using relaxation and guided imagery and (ii) a control session of relaxing music. Three-day diaries were completed at baseline and after each intervention.

Subsequently, patients received discs for home listening - a relaxation-guided imagery disc and a relaxing music disc.

After three months, the patients were interviewed by phone.  Results showed that 21 PD patients participated and 19 completed the study.

There was a significant increase in the percent of "on" time after listening to the relaxation-guided imagery disc, as compared with baseline (from 47.7% to 62.8%, 95% CI 5.26-25.03, p = 0.005).

Relaxing music caused no significant change in percent of "on" time from baseline (from 47.7% to 53.0%, p = 0.161).

Although all sessions were performed in "on" state, there was a significant decrease in UPDRS (Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale) motor subscores after each of the two sessions as compared with the UPDRS score before the session (relaxation-guided imagery mean reduction -3.81 p = 0.0002 and after relaxing music mean reduction -1.95, p = 0.001), significantly more so after the relaxation-guided imagery (p = 0.020).
After 3 months listening to the relaxation guided imagery disc, there was increased "on" time from baseline by 12.6% (95% CI 3.19-28.39, p = 0.111) but this did not reach statistical significance.
Conclusion: This pilot study showed promising results that digital delivery of relaxation-guided imagery is a promising treatment for PD.

Citation: Schlesinger I1, Benyakov O2, Erikh I3, Nassar M3. Relaxation, Guided Imagery Reduces Motor Fluctuations in Parkinson's Disease. Journal of Parkinson’s Disease. 2014 Mar 31. [Epub ahead of print]

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award