Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative neurological disorder that causes muscle rigidity, slow movement, and tremors. Roughly one million people in the United States suffer from, most notably beloved Family Ties actor, Michael J. Fox, who was diagnosed with the disease at the age of 29 in 1991.
By 2030, it is anticipated that this number will reach 1.2 million. After Alzheimer’s disease, it is the second most common neurodegenerative disease.
While drugs are typically prescribed to reduce symptoms, alternative therapies such as vibration therapy have attracted increasing attention as a potentially successful treatment for Parkinson’s disease.
This blog post will explore the potential benefits of vibration therapy for Parkinson’s disease and shed light on current research regarding its efficacy.
Vibration Therapy: What is it?
Vibration therapy that disperses light vibrations throughout the body, stimulating the muscles to contract and relax. As a result, more blood is flowing to the areas that require it for healing.
The production of osteoblasts, which are crucial for bone growth and repair, is also influenced by specific vibrations. A peaceful feeling of pain alleviation is produced as soft, massaging sensations are supplied to replace the pain that exists.
Both whole body and localized (one specific location of the body) vibration therapy are available.
It has been said that vibration therapy can help:
- Boost muscle mass
- Boost muscle mass
- Improve metabolism
- Lessen joint pain
- Promote bone density
- Strengthen circulation
Research suggests that Parkinson’s vibration therapy may benefit those with the disease by reducing muscle rigidity and tremors, in addition to being associated with improving bone density and muscle strength.
Vibration Therapy and Parkinson’s Disease
In December 2022, the Today Show did a segment on Parkinson’s vibration therapy, focusing on a pair of vibrating gloves created by researchers at Stanford Medicine that are producing “life-changing” outcomes for Parkinson’s disease patients.
They developed a “unique vibration pattern to reset nerve cells that misfire into the brains of Parkinson’s patients.”
Dr. Peter Tass, neurologist and “main brain behind the gloves,” remarks, “I’d like to come up with treatments that are way less aggressive, but nevertheless really effective.”
His hope is that the gloves will offer a different course of treatment for patients who currently have two choices: take a number of drugs or endure highly invasive brain surgery.
The Long History of Vibration Therapy
The concept of treating Parkinson’s disease with non-invasive vibrations is over a hundred years old, despite the fact that the Parkinson’s vibration therapy created by Stanford University experts is new.
A vibrating chair was developed in the nineteenth century by French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot after he discovered that his patients’ symptoms temporarily subsided after lengthy, jostling carriage and horseback rides.
Charcot’s chair, as well as the vibration platforms and therapies developed by researchers afterward, reduced some symptoms of the condition, but the effects were temporary and inconclusive.
Tass reflects on Charcot’s findings, noting that “When [Charcot’s] patients came by train, they were to some extent improved. Not their tremors, but the stiffness was to some extent improved.”
By December 2022, Dr. Peter Tass and his team had refined Charcot’s discovery, and twenty patients were enrolled in the first round of clinical trials. They noted that everyone who used the glove had experienced some improvement.
Tass had an interest in self-organization while he was a medical student. This is the seemingly spontaneous building of patterns and structures, including clouds and snowflakes.
For his work on self-organization, which indicated potential implications for neurological illnesses like Parkinson’s, he went on to receive a doctorate in physics and a master’s in mathematics.
“My goal is to create treatments that are more effective and less brutal on the body by simply utilizing the self-organization power within his body,” Tass shared.
Glove Therapy: A Groundbreaking Treatment for Parkinson’s Disease
Dopamine, a chemical essential for nerve communication in the control of movement, emotion, and behavior, is attacked by Parkinson’s disease, which affects the brain cells that produce it. Most often, the disease is treated with drugs that mimic dopamine.
Deep brain stimulation is the go-to treatment if the symptoms cease improving with medication. Implanted electrodes that are connected to a pacemaker-like device target abnormal brain patterns with this method. Not all patients are qualified for or opt for brain surgery due to the risks involved.
The Magic Behind the Buzzing Gloves
Parkinson’s symptoms are caused by huge neural groups firing abnormally in unison. Tass and his team found through computer simulations that a structured stimulus vibrating between 100 and 300 hertz (cycles per second) can desynchronize neuron-firing. They referred to this as coordinated reset stimulation.
In addition, Tass figured out how to prolong the effects of vibratory stimuli, which eluded Charcot and others who employed vibrations to treat Parkinson’s. Between treatments and within stimulus patterns, pauses are essential.
Tass stated that the body needs to unlearn abnormal neural connectivity patterns. Pauses promote the effectiveness of the treatment, much as taking brief rests when studying or exercising does.
Tass investigated the treatment’s potential therapeutic effects by delivering electrical stimulation directly to the brain using deep brain electrodes in research on monkeys with Parkinson’s symptoms as well as in a study on six Parkinson’s patients.
In the 2014 human study, coordinated reset stimulation was used twice daily for up to two hours for three days straight. The stimulation, the researchers discovered, decreased the neural synchrony linked to Parkinson’s disease, and this was connected with an increase in motor performance.
The search for a method to administer the stimulation without placing electrodes in the brain was the next goal for Tass and his team. The answer was to switch out electrical bursts sent to the brain via electrodes for vibratory bursts sent to the fingertips via mechanical stimulators.
Since there are many sensory neurons at the tips of the fingers, a large amount of the brain’s sensory cortex is devoted to receiving messages from them. This is significant because noninvasive therapies need to affect a sizable enough area of the brain to be as effective as deep brain stimulation. The fingertips are best for Braille (and not for tattoos, for the same reason).
The result? A strappy, skin-baring glove that appears to have come from Star Wars. The glove is portable and comfortable to wear while going about your daily business. It is connected to a device that sends bursts of 250 hertz (a buzz just a little louder than a cat purr) through pin-sized openings on plastic pads fastened to the index, middle, ring, and pinky fingertips. An area of skin a little bigger than a dime is stimulated by each glove taken as a whole.
Further Information on Stanford Medicine’s Vibrating Glove Therapy
The findings of pilot trials involving individuals with mild to moderate Parkinson’s disease were reported by Tass and his team in Frontiers in Physiology in April 2021. In these studies, vibrotactile coordinated reset stimulation was administered daily to eight Parkinson’s patients for at least three months (three of these patients received the treatment for six or more months).
Before and after the three months of glove therapy, the researchers evaluated the patients’ motor function and obtained at-rest electroencephalographs using the subcategories of tremor, rigidity, bradykinesia (slow body movement), and axial (balance).
They looked into how the therapy would affect the abnormal, synchronous neural patterns linked to Parkinson’s disease using EEGs, which measure brain activity.
At the beginning of the study, three months later, and then at follow-up visits around every three months after that, the researchers evaluated the patients’ movements and brain activity while they were not taking medication.
The vibrations were well tolerated, had no negative side effects, enhanced the patient’s motor function, and decreased Parkinson-related neuronal synchrony in the brain, according to these pilot studies.
The Vibrating Gloves: A Success Story
When he was 39 years old, Kanwar Bhutani received a Parkinson’s diagnosis. His Parkinson’s symptoms were so bad when he first arrived to test out the experimental vibrating glove therapy at Stanford Medicine that he had difficulty walking on his own.
After only one four-hour session while wearing the gloves, Bhutani, who is in his late 50s, saw a noticeable change. Overall, Bhutani’s life has changed because of the gloves.
Three months after receiving his first treatment, Bhutani, who was previously confined to a wheelchair, completed the New York City Marathon. Since then, he has finished his first triathlon and numerous 5K runs. Bhutani went on to say that his daily movement has substantially improved and is now “perfect.”
The Vibrating Gloves: A Success Story
Vibration therapy can offer a range of benefits that may improve the quality of life for individuals in need. It has been found to aid with issues such as pain caused by neuropathy, joint problems, and Parkinson’s disease. Additionally, vibration therapy can be used by older individuals needing help with consistent exercise. There is strong evidence suggesting its effectiveness in treating these conditions. Through proper guidance and care, individuals afflicted by any of the above-mentioned issues may find relief through vibration therapy.
Here at Hue Light USA, we offer a wide range of products, including the Sonix sonic vibration machine: the VC15 model (recommended for clinical use) and the VM15 model (recommended for residential use). For further information on these devices and other ones we offer, be sure to contact us today!