Would you please send me information about the Parkinsons Energy Project in Portland, Oregon involving study volunteers who did notÂ take Sinemet and received craniosacral treatment?
I have eschewed Sinemet for four years of my PD. And any other long term non-Sinemet using studies?
Results of the Parkinsons Energy Project wereÂ remarkable given the short time frame – only 4 months –
and the limited number of treatments offered. Outcomes wereÂ documented quantitatively using well acceptedÂ research instruments and qualitatively using interviews and pre-post videos of motor functions.
I invite you to examineÂ the videos below that showÂ changes in motor functions for several study volunteers that gave us permission to make videos of them public.Â None of the study participants were on medications so the differences are not due toÂ the effects of prescription medications which can affect how a person feels when they areÂ effective (during the “on” condition) and then they areÂ not
(during theÂ “off” condition).
By any-one’s standards,Â examination ofÂ theÂ videos below shows dramatic improvements in motor functions. There is hope of relief from symptoms!
A video of Mary Before the 6Â treatments
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A Video of Mary After the 6 Treatments
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A Video of SteveÂ Before the 6 Treatments
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A Video of SteveÂ After the 6 Treatments
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A Video of JohnÂ Before the 6 Treatments
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A Video of JohnÂ After the 6 Treatments
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A Video of BobÂ Before the 6 Treatments
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A Video of BobÂ After the 6 Treatments
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The encouragingÂ results of the Parkinsons Energy Project (PEP) inspired the development of information,Â resources and programs that you now find on theÂ Parkinsons Recovery web sites.
You also asked aboutÂ studies for people not on Sinemet.Â I have been searching the literature, but they are very hard to find. Most control groups receive some form of drug therapy.
I did find one study of a control group not taking Parkinson’s medications. This study found a worsening of symptoms of about 13.5% a year.
BackgroundÂ of Parkinsons Energy Project
Zero Point Healers was asked by a support group in Portland, OregonÂ in 2005 to conduct a studyÂ that evaluatedÂ the effects of craniosacral therapy on the symptoms of their members. Members of the support groupÂ electedÂ not to take prescription medications for Parkinson’s and were
speciallyÂ interestedÂ in exploring treatments and therapiesÂ that might potentially offerÂ relief from symptoms. No member ofÂ the support group had any prior experience with craniosacral therapy.
ElevenÂ support group members volunteered to participate in the PEP study.Â SixÂ 30 minute treatments
were given every two weeks. One study volunteer dropped out at the midÂ point of the study because
doctorsÂ determined his symptoms were caused by Lyme disease.
Treatments wereÂ administeredÂ by 2 or 3 persons (Deborah Russell, Ann Egerton and Robert Rodgers)Â who are allÂ certified craniosacral therapistsÂ andÂ Brennan Healing Science practitioners (which is a form of energy work that is complementaryto craniosacral work.)
Design of the PEP Study
The studyÂ was a pre-post design thatÂ usedÂ quantitative and qualitative measures to assess outcomes.Â The UPDRS (Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale) and the Parkinson’s Disease Questionnaire 39 (PDQ-39)Â were used to assess symptoms quantitatively.
Reliability of bothÂ instruments is well documented in the research literature on Parkinson’s.Â Instruments were completedÂ by participants before treatments began (the baseline),Â at the mid point, andÂ after all six treatments had been given (the post-test).
Video tapes were also taken of 10 motor functions at the beginning of the study and at the end for purposes of comparison.Â Results of the videos of motor functions were consistent with the quantitative findings.
I will first explain whatÂ craniosacral therapy does and why it applies to Parkinson’s.Â I will then summarize the findings of the PEPÂ study.
One woman with Parkinson’s whoÂ found
relief using craniosacral therapy
summarized the nature of the treatments
“It is hard to believe anything is really
happening, but it works.”
The work is very gentle.Â The person
typically lies down on a comfortable
table such as a massage table.
Craniosacral treatments are not like
aÂ massage. The nature of the touch
is very,Â very light and gentle.
TheÂ person remains fully clothed.
Energy work and craniosacral therapy
facilitate the bodyâ€™s natural ability to
unwind and release anyÂ tension that is
trapped throughout the body. They
help the neural system rest and
The intent of craniosacral therapy is
to work with the body so thatÂ tension
and traumaÂ trapped at the cellular
level can beÂ released.Â Therapists
are trained to “follow the body” as
theyÂ allowÂ tension and stressÂ to be
released from the muscles and tissues.
The process is best described as one of
unwinding tissues that are tightly
entangledÂ with too much tension.
Trauma to the body is analogous to a
wetÂ wash rag that has been twisted so
many times thatÂ all the water has been
squeezed dry.Â AfterÂ the rag is exposed
to the hot sun it dries out and becomes
hardened and inflexible.Â This is what
happens to tissues that have been
traumatized. Craniosacral therapy
softens and helps hydrate the tissues so
that they can be properly nourished.
Stress andÂ Parkinson’s
After talking with many, many people with
Parkinson’s IÂ haveÂ concludedÂ thatÂ stress is a
keyÂ factor that aggravates symptoms. When
stress can beÂ relieved,Â symptoms get better.
Person after person in my interviews
tell me the same thing: ThereÂ is aÂ direct
correlation betweenÂ stress and their symptoms.
WhenÂ theirÂ symptomsÂ flare up, people
report theyÂ are alwaysÂ under more stress.
When they are able to find ways toÂ get
relief from the stress, symptoms become
StressÂ creates inflammation throughout
the body which isÂ theÂ basis for many chronic
diseases. Reduction in inflammation is a
key reason for the improvement in symptoms.
Here is the sequence: (1)Â Craniosacral work
releases stress. (2)Â Inflammation is reduced.
(3) Symptoms are relieved.
Craniosacral therapy is only one way
to help relieveÂ stress. There are also
other excellent methods that help to
relieve stress,Â butÂ we zeroed in on
craniosacralÂ workÂ as the intervention
of choice in the PEP study.
Trauma and Parkinson’s
LifeÂ experiences can beÂ so traumatic
that they have a long lasting effect on the
body.Â The source of trauma varies widely,
but can involveÂ theÂ early and untimely
death of a parent, service during wartime,
physical or sexual abuse to a child,
automobile accidents, head injuries – you
I was discussing trauma this week to a
Parkinson’s support group whenÂ one woman
raised her hand.
“I know an example of this. I have a friend
whose son committed suicide.Â Â His symptoms
flared up two months later.”
Regardless of the source, traumaÂ makes the
tissues throughout the body freeze up.
Tissues in many people with Parkinsonâ€™s feel
much like concrete after it has hardened.
Many adults (myself included) have held
the belief that if we are able to function in
the world as adults by educating ourselves,
getting good jobs, and making a contribution
in our respective fields, we have overcome
any and allÂ traumasÂ we experienced as a child.
IÂ Â personally convinced myself for
5oÂ years that I could “will”Â traumas
from my own childhood toÂ vanish into
thin air.Â Speaking fromÂ personal
experience, I must confess this
planÂ was a big flop.
What I now know to be true is
that traumas from childhood
(and traumas we experience as
adults)Â have a permanence about
them.Â TraumasÂ resideÂ inside our
cells as we age. TheyÂ get stuck in
our tissues andÂ settle in for the
long haul. This is why our issues
are in our tissues.
When a threshold level of trauma and
stress is reached theÂ body becomes less
and less able toÂ tolerate it.Â The good news
is that itÂ takes timeÂ for the hormones in
the body to become seriously imbalanced.
ItÂ should thus come as little surprise that it
also takes time for hormones to comeÂ back into
Findings of the PEP Study
Findings of our studyÂ showed that craniosacral
workÂ did helpÂ to relieveÂ symptoms.Â Â Quality
of life of study volunteers did show
Study volunteers were able to do things that
they had previously been unable to do. Here
areÂ some examples:
- Cook Thanksgiving dinner
- Take weekly nature hikes
- Go out on a date
- Be assertive
- Take off a coat without assistance
- Stand up to brush teeth
- Attend business meetings
- Swing arms freely
- Blink eyes
- Hang out with friends
- Drive without anxiety
- Handle stress better
We observed otherÂ positive changes from
one treatmentÂ session to the nextÂ including:
- More flexibility getting on and off the treatmentÂ table
- Better posture
- Greater ease walking
- Enhanced mental clarity and expressiveness
- Greater flexibility
- More smiling, better skin color and overall vibrancy
- More vitality and youthfulness
Craniosacral therapyÂ clearlyÂ had a positive impact
on the overall health and well beingÂ of Study
Unified Parkinsons Disease Rating Scale
(UPDRS). The quantitativeÂ research instruments
confirmedÂ reports from study participants,
images from videos and our own observations.
One standard instrument that is used in
Parkinson’s research toÂ evaluate the
progress of Parkinson’sÂ is the Unified
Parkinsons Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS).
The UPDRSÂ was administered before the study
began and at the conclusion of the study six
months later.Â Â The average baseline score for
the PEP study group was 40.3. The average
score dropped toÂ 38.7 at the conclusion of the
The higher the score, the worse the condition.
That is to say, study participants got better
on average. Some experienced significant
improvements. Further analysis of theÂ data
showed thatÂ study volunteers improved on
all three sub-scales of the UPDRS
(Activities of Daily Living, Mental, and Motor).
Most people believe thatÂ the symptoms of
people with Parkinson’s are “destined” to
progressively “deteriorate” over time.Â Results
of the PEP studyÂ refute thisÂ widely held belief
and show it to be false.
TheÂ improvement was remarkable in that the
intervention was veryÂ modest, involving only
6 treatments lasting 20-30 minutesÂ each.
Changes in Symptoms. We also asked
Study Volunteers to report on 62 symptoms
before the study began, at midterm and at
post test. Analysis of the data indicated
that there was an improvement or no change
in 75% of the symptoms we tracked.
In the figures below, the center point is
the place where the person is symptom free.
The farther out from the center ofÂ each spoke of
theÂ wheel,Â the worse the person is feeling.
The points marked in red reflectÂ the
averaged baseline symptoms forÂ study
volunteersÂ before we began the study.
The green points are the averaged mid
term report of symptoms taken after three
treatments.Â The blue points are the
averaged post-test report of symptoms
taken after 6 treatments.
ForÂ many of the symptoms,Â the color of the
dot that is furthestÂ from the center (reflecting
a worse condition) is red. Note thatÂ the plot
point in blue that representsÂ theÂ symptoms
at the end of the study are usuallyÂ closer to
the center than the baseline in red.Â This
indicates an improvement in symptoms.
Parkinsons Disease Questionnaire 39.
We also administered a third instrument –
the Parkinson’s Disease Questionnaire 39.
Among the sub-scales analyzed from the
data reported on this questionnaire,
improvement was seen in two categories,
no change was seen in four categories and
Study Volunteers were slightly worse in
two categories. Again, these findings refute
the conventional expectation that most
persons with Parkinson’s always get worse.
All sources of evidence including
quantitative data and qualitative
observations showed the same
result.Â Â It is possible to find relief
from the symptoms of Parkinson’s.
Parkinsons Energy Project (PEP)
study results suggest thatÂ craniosacral
therapy can be usefulÂ in helping to
relieveÂ the symptoms of Parkinson’s.
These results suggest releasing
stress does make a difference.
Robert Rodgers, Ph.D.
Â© 2008 Parkinsons Recovery