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The Colorful History of Vibratory Therapy for PD: Does It Have Place in Today's Treatment Armamentarium?

Thursday August 27, 2009

About.com - C.G. Goetz is one of the world's premier Parkinson's disease specialists and he has an avid interest in the history of medicine-particularly the history of the scientific study of the movement disorders.

His recent investigations into the treatment of movement disorders at Paris' famed Salpêtrière Hospital has turned up some interesting facts about J.-M. Charcot's work with PD patients.

Charcot was one of the most famous neurologists of the 19th century. He trained or influenced many of the best and brightest of the physicians of that century including Sigmund Freud.

Charcot claims to have noticed that PD patients slept better and felt better after a bumpy train ride or carriage transport and then surmised that the vibrations caused by these rides had a therapeutic effect of some kind. Charcot developed a vibration chair for patients with PD where patients sat in the chair each day for 30 minutes and then felt better.

Another 19th century famous movement disorders pioneer (and colleague of Charcot), Gilles de la Tourette (after whom Tourette's syndrome is named) developed a helmet that vibrated the head on the premise that the brain responded directly to the pulsations.

Goetz notes that various forms fo vibratory therapy are in use in various branches of medicine today and he seems to leave open the possibility that vibratory medicine for selected PD symptoms might be worth looking at again today.