Bodywork Treatment (Feldenkrais) in Patients with Multiple Sclerosis
Principal Investigator: Susan K. Johnson, Ph.D.
Institution: University of North Carolina, Charlotte
Funding source: NIH, U24HD32994
Last Updated: 05/17/00

Objective: To investigate the effects of Feldenkrais bodywork treatment on physical symptoms, mood and functional performance in patients with multiple sclerosis. This study is being conducted in collaboration with the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
Methods: Twenty patients with multiple sclerosis were randomized to one of two groups. Patients in group one received 8 weekly sessions of Feldenkrais followed by 8 weekly sham treatments. Patients in group two received the treatments in the reverse order. Sham treatments consisted of non-therapeutic, passive bodywork to control for the effects of attention and touching of the patient's body. Mood, self-efficacy, physical symptoms and functional performance were assessed before and after each phase of treatment.
Results: Bodywork treatment produced greater reductions in anxiety and perceived stress than did the sham condition. No differences were observed between the two groups on severity of MS symptoms.
Conclusions: Feldenkreis and, by generalization, other bodywork techniques may help MS sufferers to manage stress and anxiety, an important quality of life component for MS patients; however, no amelioration of physical symptoms directly related to the neurological damage should be expected. Results have been published in Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 1999, 5:237-244.