Hyperice makes durable, high quality products. As of this writing, the Hypersphere comes in two sizes: the original size at a 5-inch diameter and the mini at a 3-inch diameter. Each comes with three speed settings and a rechargeable battery with an impressively long battery life. Both are TSA approved and easy to carry during any type of travel (my 5-inch Hypersphere has traveled with me to over 20 countries).
Plantar skin stimulation
We have talked a lot about plantar skin stimulation benefits. Using the Hypersphere or other vibration products provide another avenue for stimulating plantar skin nerves, increasing sensory input to the brain which will help to improve movement.
Application: Ideally, it is best to place the Hypersphere on the floor on a carpeted or soft surface (e.g. a pillow or folded up yoga mat) and not a hard surface such as tile or wood. Turn it on, have a seat in the chair, and place your foot (barefoot, no socks) on the ball.
We recommend using a low speed setting first and increase vibration speed as you see fit. Very slowly, move your foot around on the ball and cover as much plantar skin area as possible. Continue moving your foot for at least a couple of minutes or longer, if possible. Repeat on the other foot.
Tremors / Palmar skin stimulation (See video below)
Often times, people with PD experience the resting tremor of a limb or limbs. Stimulation of the palm skin not only helps to wake up the central nervous system, peripheral nervous system, and brain, but can help to temporarily reduce tremors.
Application: Turn on the Hypersphere or other vibrating device and hold it in your hands. Be sure the device is in contact with as much palm and finger skin as possible. Hold the device firmly for 5-10 minutes or until you feel you have had enough vibration. Turn off and set down the device and observe the tremors. Is there a difference? It is likely they are significantly diminished or gone.
While the diminished tremors will be temporary (usually between a few minutes to a couple of hours), it can be very helpful when the person with PD is preparing to do anything requiring fine motor skills: texting, writing, typing, buttoning a button, zipping a zipper, brushing teeth, using an eating utensil, etc.
I know many people with PD who stopped going out to dinner because they are self-conscious about their tremors and are concerned that they will spill food or a drink. But there’s good news! Many have purchased a Hypersphere. They hold it during the trip to the restaurant while someone else drives. Upon arrival, their tremors are nearly always diminished to a point (or gone completely) where they can eat and drink without worrying about spilling anything. This can be highly beneficial in boosting confidence and self-esteem.
Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)
Straight from the Mayo Clinic database: “Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a condition that causes an uncontrollable urge to move your legs, usually because of an uncomfortable sensation. It typically happens in the evening or nighttime hours when you are sitting or lying down. Moving temporarily eases the unpleasant feeling.
Restless legs syndrome, also known as Willis-Ekbom disease, can begin at any age and generally worsens as you age. It can disrupt sleep, which interferes with daily activities.” (Clinic, n.d.)
It is not uncommon for people with PD to experience RLS, sometimes many years before diagnosis.
Vibration can help significantly reduce RLS.
Application: Prior to sleeping, position yourself on a bed or couch with legs in front of you. Choose a leg, take the vibrating device, and very slowly move it over the muscles. While there is no specific pattern you need to follow, perhaps start on your quadricep. Next, place the device under your leg and work on the hamstrings. Then, place it under the calve and slowly cover as much area as possible. Repeat on the other leg.
Moving the device SLOWLY is the key. I highly recommend spending a minimum of 5 minutes on each leg. The more time spent, the more benefits will be realized.
Various types of dystonia are common in the Parkinson’s population. A few examples include foot, cervical, and abdominal dystonia, in additional to generalized dystonia. Dystonia can be idiopathic, genetic, or acquired.
Dystonia is an involuntary contraction of muscles and can vary from mild to severe. A miscommunication between nerve cells in the basal ganglia (the area of the brain responsible for inhibiting muscle contractions) can cause dystonia in one or more areas of the body.
The involuntary muscle contractions cause repetitive clenching and/or twisting movements which can cause pain, cramping, and less than optimal posture.
Foot dystonia: In our experience, this is the most common type of focal dystonia. This involves the involuntary contractions of the abductor hallucis and other muscles in the foot that draw the ball of the foot closer to the heel and many times causing plantar flexed and inverted foot position. This can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few days and maybe extremely painful.
Application: Just as we do when stimulating the plantar skin, it is best to place the Hypersphere on the floor on a carpeted or soft surface (e.g. a pillow or folded up yoga mat) and not a hard surface such as tile or wood. Turn it on, have a seat on a couch or chair, and place your foot (barefoot, no socks) on the ball. We recommend using a low speed setting first and increase vibration speed as you see fit. Very slowly, move your foot around on the ball, concentrating on areas where you feel the most discomfort. Continue moving your foot for as long as you can tolerate or until the clenching diminishes or goes away. Repeat on the other foot, if needed.
Special note: Naboso textured insoles are another excellent tool for temporary relief of foot dystonia. Used in combination with vibration therapy (prior to wearing insoles) may return the foot to a normal position. While there are no guarantees, we have seen this happen on numerous occasions.
Cervical dystonia: The involuntary and painful contractions of neck muscles pull the head to one side and may cause an uncontrollable forward or backward tilt of the head. Medical treatment may include Botox type injections into contracted muscles. However, vibration has shown to be helpful in realizing a temporary and partial reduction of involuntary contractions and diminished pain.
(video coming soon)
Application: It is best to have another person assist with this therapy as it is difficult to self-administer (although you will find a self-administer technique on the support website). Have the client or patient sit in a chair. The assistant will stand behind the chair.
On a low speed setting, place the vibrating ball on the side where contractions are occurring. Very slowly move the ball around the area of contracted muscles. Be careful not to come in contact with boney areas. Bones do not contract or relax and vibrating on a bone or on the skull will be painful and needs to be avoided. ONLY use the ball on muscles.
It is doubtful that the head will return to a normal position. You goal is to use vibration to temporarily relax the muscles. This, in turn will hopefully lead to a reduction in discomfort or pain.
The cervical dystonia video on the support website shows the process of vibrating contracted muscles; In addition, it shows a taping technique to help stimulate a contraction of muscles on the other side of the neck. The combination of vibration and taping the opposite side has proven to be greatly beneficial for many people.
Abdominal dystonia: This involves an involuntary contraction of muscles in the abdomen and can be very painful.
Application: As with all vibration techniques for dystonia, you will get the best results by moving the ball very slowly. On a bed or couch, lay on your back and place the ball on your abdomen. Slowly roll over the muscles that are involuntarily contracting. Do this for as long as needed or as long as you can tolerate.
Generalized dystonia: This is a tough one, folks as it affects multiple muscle groups in the body. Generalized dystonia can be very painful and debilitating, although vibration has proven to be somewhat helpful. People living with generalized dystonia are often times unable to coordinate self-administered therapy, depending on how they are affected. Help from another person may be necessary.
In the following video, our patient lives with Generalized Dystonia. While this video doesn’t show the vibration techniques we used to help her, it shows the end result of Maricela walking unassisted at the end. A combination of Naboso insoles and using the vibrating ball on severly clenched and dystonic areas made it possible for her to walk unassisted – something she hadn’t done in months.
As with all vibration techniques for dystonia, you will get the best results by moving the ball very slowly on any and all affected muscle groups. Use the ball on each affected area for as long as you can tolerate. Even a temporary diminishment of involuntary contractions can lead to temporary and welcome relief of some amount of pain.
People with PD often times live with constipation. Vibration therapy can be helpful in relieving constipation.
Application: Seated in a comfortable chair or lying on your back on a bed or couch, start by placing the ball on your descending colon (just below left side of rib cage and down to the left side of the navel). On low speed (at first), slowly move the vibrating ball over this area for 3-5 minutes (or longer, if tolerable). Next, move to the ascending colon (just below left side of rib cage and down to the left side of the navel). On low speed (at first), slowly move the vibrating ball over this area for 3-5 minutes (or longer, if tolerable).
Wait a little while and see how you feel. If you don’t make a trip to the bathroom, repeat the process throughout the day. If you haven’t made a trip to the bathroom by the next morning, repeat the process throughout the day.
There is a good chance you will loosen things up and make a trip (or trips) to the bathroom on the first day. Our clients and workshop attendees have had tremendous results with this, and many make a trip within only a few minutes.
Many women experience the discomfort of menstrual cramps. This vibration technique is for all women in childbearing years, not just women with PD. And, while Parkinson’s effects twice as many men as women and is generally an age-related disease, there are many women living with PD who are still in the childbearing years and experiencing a monthly menstrual period.
Application: On a bed or couch, lay on your back and place the ball on your abdomen. Slowly move the ball over the areas of discomfort. Do this for as long as you wish. We know of countless women who use the ball for an hour or more. Vibration has been highly effective in relieving menstrual cramps.
Self-administered myofascial release (SMR) is an effective method for releasing tight muscles, reducing rigidity, and improving flexibility, range of motion around joints, and posture. While SMR is remarkably effective, it is much more efficiently taught via video demonstrations. Go to the support website and visit the SMR tab on the menu. There, you will find an extensive video library broken down to specific muscles and how best to release them.
Be SURE to watch the SMR Intro video for especially important safety points prior to administer any SMR.