Cord Injury Massage
people with spinal-cord injuries by increasing their
range of motion and muscle strength while decreasing
anxiety and depression, according to a recent study.
"Spinal Cord Patients
Benefit from Massage Therapy" was conducted by
Miguel Diego, Tiffany Field, Ph.D., Maria Hernandez-Reif,
Ph.D., Sybil Hart, Ph.D., and Tory Field, of the
Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami
School of Medicine, along with Bernard Brucker of
the university's psychiatry department and Iris
Burman, co-founder and director of Educating Hands
School of Massage in Miami, Florida.
Fifteen males and
five females participated in the study. Their
average age was 39 and each had C5-C7 spinal cord
injuries for at least one year. The subjects were
stratified by range of motion and randomly assigned
to either a massage-therapy or exercise group.
group received two 40-minute massages per week for
five weeks. The exercise group was taught an
exercise routine that they performed on their own
twice a week for five weeks.
On the first and last
days of the study, a physiotherapist with no
knowledge of group assignment assessed participants'
range of motion and muscle strength, and
administered the Modified Barthel Index, which rates
self-care and mobility skills.
The massage group
showed a greater increase in muscle strength than
the exercise group on the Manual Muscle Test,
designed to assess motor function after spinal-cord
revealed that both groups improved in shoulder
abduction, but the massage group showed greater
improvement in wrist extension and flexion.
The Center for
Epidemiological Studies-Depression scale was
completed on the first and last days of the study,
and the State Anxiety Inventory was used to assess
participants' anxiety immediately before and after
massage on the first and last days of the study.
Members of the
massage group showed a greater decrease in
depression scores on the last day of the research.
They also had significantly lower levels of anxiety
than subjects in the exercise group immediately
following massage on the first and last days of the
"The increased muscle
strength and range of motion may have contributed to
the decrease in their depression and anxiety," state
the study's authors. "These data suggest that
patients with spinal cord injury can benefit from
recommended future studies to assess massage therapy
for other problems related to spinal-cord injury,
such as spasticity and pain.
Source: The Touch
Research Institute. Authors: Miguel A. Diego,
Tiffany Field, Ph.D., Maria Hernandez-Reif, Ph.D.,
Sybil Hart, Ph.D. Originally published in the
International Journal of Neuroscience, 2002, Vol.
112, pp. 133-142.