Friday, November 5, 2010

Effects of Massage Therapy on Brain Activity: A Functional Magnetic Resonance

Our big question is why did they use a stick in using reflexology and not for massage. Won't that skewer the results? For an fMRI study is seems like a protocol which could use more work. Kevin Kunz


Diane Sliz, BSc
Effects of Massage Therapy on Brain Activity: A Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) Pilot Study
Authors: Diane Sliz, BSc., Shawn Hayley, PhD. & Andra Smith, PhD.
Abstract:
OBJECTIVE: To date, no known studies have explored the brain regions and circuitry activated in response to a therapeutic massage treatment. As such, the purpose of the present pilot study was to delineate the neural pathways in response to a massage therapy treatment in healthy adults.
DESIGN: A randomised pilot study enrolled healthy adults aged 18 to 50 years to receive a Swedish massage, a reflexology treatment or a massage administered with a wooden object on the right foot, while undergoing a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) testing procedure. Questionnaires assessing mood states were administered at the beginning of the study and a Likert-scale question was given at pre-scan (once participants were placed in the MRI apparatus) and post-scan (after having received the treatment condition). 
SETTING: Participants came to the Ottawa General Hospital for the fMRI. Adults aged 18-50 years were recruited from University campuses as well as from a newspaper ad and other community venues. Each person was screened for contraindications.
INTERVENTION: Participants (N=40) received 8.5 min of either a Swedish massage, a reflexology treatment or a massage administered with a wooden object on the right foot. A control group did not receive any tactile stimulation while undergoing the same fMRI procedure as the three above-mentioned treatment conditions.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The Positive and Negative Affect Schedule is a 41-item scale measuring the degree of positive and negative affective mood states at the present moment. The Beck Depression Inventory is a valid and reliable 21-item scale questionnaire used to reveal depressive symptomatology in both healthy and clinical populations.
RESULTS: Preliminary results indicate significant brain activations in each of the treatment conditions (i.e. Swedish massage, reflexology treatment and massage administered with a wooden object on the right foot) compared to the control condition (i.e. no tactile stimulation on the foot). However, the Swedish massage elicits the strongest activations in the orbitifrontal cortex as well as the precuneus, areas associated with reward, pleasure and positive affect.  
CONCLUSIONS: Our preliminary findings from this pilot study indicate that massage therapy enhances positive well-being and might have great beneficial effects in populations suffering from mood disorders such as anxiety, stress and depression.

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