Stroke Recovery

Massage therapy helps with stroke recovery

Massage Therapy and Stroke Recovery

What is a stroke?

Strokes are caused by a blood clot traveling through your circulatory system to your brain. There, it can get stuck in a blood vessel, blocking blood flow and depriving your brain of vital oxygen and nutrients. This damages the affected area of the brain. Functions related to the damaged area may not work properly such as speech, motor function, and nerve transmission. This causes paralysis and communication difficulties.  Massage therapy helps with stroke recovery.

How can massage therapy help stroke victims?

Since strokes are the result of inadequate circulation, massage therapy is useful because it moves your circulation better. Limbs that may not be working normally after a stroke, need massage therapy to keep the circulation moving through muscles that are no longer working.  As well, massage reduces pain associated with muscles that are compensating for the loss of use, or reduced, use of others. Whether there is permanent paralysis, or the client is recovering, massage helps to manage or reduce pain, and improve tissue health.

What Does the Research Say About Massage Therapy for Stroke Recovery?

  • Therapeutic massage seems to decrease anxiety and pain, increase health-related quality of life, and improve sensorimotor functions after stroke
  • Findings from high-quality systematic reviews describe the potential benefits of massage for pain indications including labor, shoulder, neck, back, cancer, fibromyalgia, and temporomandibular disorder.

Research on Massage Therapy and Stroke Recovery

BMC Complement Altern Med. 2016 Feb 4;16:50. doi: 10.1186/s12906-016-1029-9.
Does touch massage facilitate recovery after stroke? A study protocol of a randomized controlled trial.
Lämås K1, Häger C2, Lindgren L3, Wester P4, Brulin C5.

Massage for Pain: An Evidence Map [Internet].
Editors: Miake-Lye I, Lee J, Lugar T, Taylor S, Shanman R, Beroes J, Shekelle P.
Source Washington (DC): Department of Veterans Affairs (US); 2016 Sep.
VA Evidence-based Synthesis Program Reports.

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