Current Parkinson’s disease rehabilitation methods have been deemed useless, in a recent study featured in the Journal JAMA Neurology.
The controversial research was conducted by British experts at Birmingham University, over the course of 15 months.
The experiment, known as the PD REHAB trial, involved a group of 726 participants suffering from Parkinson’s disease. As part of a randomized controlled study, some of them received no medical therapy whatsoever, while others benefited from physiotherapy and occupational therapy.
The former rehabilitation method involves using regular exercise and keeping patients physically active, so as to boost their flexibility and coordination, alleviate pain and increase the force of their muscles.
The latter approach refers to the way Parkinson’s disease patients can be assisted in carrying out day-to-day tasks on their own, without being forced to depend on help from others.
In others words, occupational therapy is aimed at boosting the individuals’ independence and self-reliance, by providing them with advice and tips regarding how they can manage ordinary tasks, such as dressing oneself and brushing one’s teeth.
As a progressive brain disorder that severely impairs movement, Parkinson’s disease manifests itself through various symptoms, such as involuntary tremors, muscle rigidity, difficulty keeping one’s balance or walking and slowness when carrying out physical activities.
In addition, the debilitating disease also results in non-motor difficulties, such as insomnia, constipation, urinary problems, hallucinations, psychological disorders (anxiety, depression) and cognitive impairment (memory loss, trouble concentrating, speech difficulties etc).
In an effort to combat all this wide array of negative effects triggered by Parkinson’s disease, health experts have devised a rehabilitation plan consisting in occupational therapy and physiotherapy.
And yet, now this new research is claiming that such a strategy actually yields no benefits, despite being extremely costly.
According to lead study author Carl Clarke, while it can’t be contested that being more physically active can be somewhat helpful to patients, the advantages of rehabilitation have been grossly underestimated, and it is essential to revise current treatment methods targeting this disorder.
Parkinson’s disease nowadays affects about 10 million people worldwide, and solely in the United States there are approximately 1 million such patients.
Across the nation, around 60,000 new cases are identified on a yearly basis, and yet therapy for this disorder is allegedly worthless, yielding no substantial benefits.
As a result, experts now recommend that further research should be conducted, so as to identify alternative treatments that could actually assist Parkinson’s disease sufferers in managing their condition more effectively.
On the other hand, critics of this study, such as professor David Burn from Parkinson’s UK, have pointed out that the reason why physiotherapy and occupational therapy have appeared ineffectual on this occasion was because volunteers underwent rehabilitation for just around 4 hours, over the course of 8 weeks.
In contrast, a more extensive trial carried out last year showed real benefits associated with such treatment methods, when they were used more frequently (16 hours per week), for longer lengths of time (more than 10 weeks).
Image Source: Flickr