News ArchivesRead News

Parkinson's treated with Victorian era device

Tuesday April 24, 2012

Will Parker

Science a Go Go - A 19th century "vibration chair" has been found by Rush University researchers to significantly improve some of the symptoms of Parkinson's disease. The chair was designed by French anatomist Jean-Martin Charcot (pictured), who is often referred to as the father of modern day neurology. At the time, Charcot reported improvements in his patients, but he died before more complete evaluations could be completed. The Rush researchers set out to replicate his work to see if his claims hold true against modern scientific testing.

Charcot originally noted that his patients reported that during long carriage rides or train journeys, the uncomfortable or painful symptoms of Parkinson's disease seemed to disappear, and the relief lasted quite some time after the journey. Acting on these anecdotes, he developed a chair that mimicked the continuous jerking of a carriage or train.

For the modern day assessment, lead researcher Christopher G. Goetz randomly assigned 23 patients to either a vibrating chair or the same chair without vibration. During the treatment sessions, both groups of study participants listened to a relaxation CD of nature sounds. The study participants underwent daily treatment for a month. "We attempted to mimic Charcot's protocol with modern equipment in order to confirm or refute an historical observation," explained Goetz.

Reporting his findings in the Journal of Parkinson's Disease, Goetz noted that the patients in the vibration group showed significant improvement in motor function after daily 30-minute treatments. However, motor function scores for the no vibration group also improved significantly.

"Our results confirm Charcot's observation of improvement in Parkinson's disease with chronic vibration treatment, but we did not find the effect specific to vibration," said Goetz. "Instead, our data suggest that auditory sensory stimulation with relaxation in a lounge chair or simply the participation in a research protocol has equivalent benefit as vibration on motor function."

Despite the indication that the effect is due to placebo or other nonspecific factors, Goetz says the findings are still of value. "Our results will allow clinicians to guide patients to at least one apparatus that is safe and associated with objective changes in parkinsonian impairment scores," he concluded.


Recent News

Oct 2 - A New Attack on Parkinson's Disease
Oct 2 - Antipsychotics for Parkinson's Psychosis May Be Dangerous
Sep 27 - The beginning of the end? The race for a Parkinson’s cure
Sep 23 - Scientists map Parkinson's spread in brain
Sep 22 - Understanding Parkinson's Disease: An Interview with Jon Palfreman
Sep 22 - Living with Lewy Body Dementia
Sep 21 - Adults with autism likely to develop Parkinson’s disease, says study
Sep 16 - Everyday activity more beneficial than occasional strenuous exercise for Parkinson’s disease
Sep 14 - UNC scientists create smarter immune cells to treat Parkinson's disease
Sep 9 - A newly discovered brain disease may point to something disturbing about Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
Sep 7 - Treatment for Parkinson's could replace surgery
Sep 4 - Asthma May Influence Risk of Parkinson's Disease
Sep 4 - Researchers Explore Memory Problems Related to Parkinson's
Sep 3 - Press Release: ACADIA Pharmaceuticals Submits New Drug Application for NUPLAZID™ for the Treatment of Parkinson’s Disease Psychosis
Aug 28 - Brain cells 'burn out' in Parkinson's disease
Aug 24 - Study Details Process Involved in Parkinson’s Disease
Aug 24 - Google Reveals Gigantic Ambitions To Fight Cancer, Diabetes, Parkinson's, Heart Problems
Aug 20 - Two proteins work together to help cells eliminate trash; Parkinson's may result
Aug 17 - Scientists visualize critical part of basal ganglia pathways
Aug 17 - VA benefits office seeks all vets exposed to Agent Orange