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Imagery Reduces Tremor in Parkinson’s Patients

12 Apr

Researchers from the Department of Neurology at Rambam Hospital in Haifa, Israel examined whether a Parkinson’s Disease (PD) tremor, known to worsen with stress, could improve with what they refer to as “relaxation guided imagery” (RGI) and calming music.

Twenty PD patients with moderate to severe tremor participated in sessions where relaxation techniques were implemented. Tremor was objectively monitored using an accelerometer.

All 20 subjects in the imagery condition (RGI) had dramatically decreased tremor (baseline 270.38 +/- 85.82 vs. RGI 35.57 +/- 43.90 movements per minute P < 0.0001).  Additionally, in 15 patients, the tremor was completely gone for 1-13 min.

Average tremor activity remained significantly bellow baseline, both 15 min and 30 min after RGI was discontinued (P < 0.001).  Patients reported improvement lasting 2-14 hours (mean 6.8 +/- 3.8).

Relaxing music significantly reduced the tremor, but to a lesser degree than RGI (220.04 +/- 106.53 movements per minute P = 0.01).  And simple, self-relaxation had no significant effect on tremor.

The researchers conclude that RGI can supplement conventional medical treatments for tremor in patients with PD.

Schlesinger I, Benyakov O, Erikh I, Suraiya S, Schiller Y.  Parkinson's disease tremor is diminished with relaxation guided imageryMovement Disorders. 2009 Oct 30; 24 (14): pages 2059-62. 

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