Background: constipation is one of the most common non-motor features of Parkinson's affecting up to 90% of patients. In severe cases, it can lead to hospitalisation and is usually managed with laxatives which in themselves can lead to side effects. Abdominal massage has been used as adjunct in the management of constipation in various populations, but not in those with Parkinson's.
Objective: the primary objective was to test the recruitment, retention and the appropriateness of the intervention methods and outcome measures.
Methods: thirty-two patients with Parkinson's were recruited from three movement disorder clinics and were randomised to receive either 6 weeks of daily abdominal massage plus lifestyle advice on managing constipation (Intervention Group, n = 16) or lifestyle advice (Control Group, n = 16). Data were collected prior to group allocation (Baseline), at Week 6 (following intervention) and 4 weeks later (Week 10). Outcome tools included the Gastrointestinal Rating Scale and a bowel diary.
Results: constipation has a negative impact on quality of life. The study recruited to target, retention was high and adherence to the study processes was good. The massage was undertaken as recommended during the 6 weeks of intervention with 50% continuing with the massage at 10 weeks. Participants in both groups demonstrated an improvement in symptoms, although this was not significantly different between the groups.
Conclusion: abdominal massage, as an adjunct to management of constipation, offers an acceptable and potentially beneficial intervention to patients with Parkinson's.