Motor neuron disease (MND) is a progressive, degenerative disorder that affects nerves responsible for making us move, breathe, speak and swallow. Sufferers may experience fatigue, stiffness, breathlessness, insomnia, swelling and cold limbs as a result. The disease progresses over a three to five year period, eventually leading to paralysis and consequent death.
Whilst complimentary therapies such as massage are far from curing MND, they may help alleviate some of its symptoms and overall improve the person’s quality of life. Read on to find out more about how massage does so.
Individuals with MND develop issues with mobility and increasingly require help to move about as the disease progresses. They have a tendency to fall over and may sometimes need to be lifted.
Using various techniques, massage of the muscles can stimulate blood flow and consequently improved overall mobility. Specific nerve centres may be stimulated using acupressure in massage, or mobility may be increased using the long, heavy strokes of Swedish massage instead.
Fatigue is a common side effect of MND. Symptoms associated with the fatigue include never feeling rested, excessive sleep, slower speech and movement, shortness of breath, lack of care and interest, a strong desire to be alone.
Massage can increase the levels of energy and assist the individual in conserving it. It does so by releasing muscle tension and toxins in the muscles and reducing the stress hormone called cortisol.
Those with MND may experience insomnia as it can be difficult to sleep with a dry mouth, shortness of breath, muscle discomfort, and muscle stiffness.
Massage can help improve Insomnia experienced in creating a more relaxed state for the person both physically and mentally. It also activates the parasympathetic nervous system responsible for allowing your body to relax. It is common for a person to even fall asleep in a massage!
Individuals with MND are prone to coldness and fluid retention due to poor circulation.
Gentle massage can stimulate circulation and internal organs and create warmth. Extremities such as hands and feet may be swollen, achy or cold due to an accumulation of lactic acid in the muscles caused by decreased mobility in a person with MND. The good circulation stimulated by massage delivers oxygen-rich blood to these damaged, tense muscles, which is exactly what they need to heal.
Massage Decreases Pain and Banishes Cramps
Individuals with MND may experience pain caused by stiff joints, muscle tension and cramps.
Sore, stiff joints may be alleviated by gentle massage as muscles surrounding the soft tissues surrounding the joint receive better blood supply from an increase in blood circulation. Increased circulation from massage therapy can also help to alleviate cramps, as they are usually the result of the muscle not receiving adequate blood flow.
It is common for persons with MND to be affected by the disease emotionally as well as physically. As day to day activities become increasingly hard to do, depression may occur.
Recent scientific research has shown massage to have a beneficial effect when carried out on those suffering from Depression. Here massage adds its therapeutic value in physically stimulating the nerve receptors of the nervous system, which in turn causes a release of the mood-lifting chemicals serotonin or dopamine into the body. Other internal chemicals associated with stress, such as adrenaline and cortisol, are also reduced with massage and counteract the depression.
Massage can generally improve the day-to-day quality of those suffering with MND. Please always speak to your doctor before undergoing massage or other similar therapies.