Multi-site electromyographic analysis of non-contact therapeutic touch

Author: Wirth DP//Cram JR
Affiliation: Healing Sciences Research International, Orinda, CA 94563
Conference/Journal: Int J Psychosom
Date published: 1993
Other: Volume ID: 40 , Issue ID: 1-4 , Pages: 47-55 , Word Count: 277

Therapeutic Touch (TT) has been an active change agent within the field of medicine since its introduction as a nursing intervention in 1975. A critical factor which has been missing from the research conducted in this area, however, is definitive scientific evidence or documentation that TT has an objective quantifiable impact upon the physiology of the subject. This study utilized a randomized ABAC methodological design to investigate the effect of TT without contact (NCTT) upon autonomic and CNS parameters. The subjects were blinded to the true nature of the experimental protocol as well as the fact that a healing study was being conducted in order to control for placebo and expectation effects. The impact of NCTT was assessed by multi-site surface EMG recordings located at the Frontalis, Cervical 4 paraspinals, Thoracic 6 paraspinals, and Lumbosacral 3 paraspinals. Autonomic indicators of physiological activity were also monitored and included hand and head temperature, heart rate, and end tidal CO2 levels. The results demonstrated that all of the autonomic indicators showed a general trend towards lower levels of arousal over time. The data also showed that three of the four muscle regions monitored--C4, T6, and L3 paraspinals--indicated a significant reduction in energy during and following the NCTT treatment sessions for a majority of the subjects. For example, the C4 EMG showed a significant NCTT treatment effect (F = 10.31; df = 1; p < .009 level), while the T6 EMG (F = 13.49; df = 1; p < .004) and L3 EMG (F = 4.74; df = 1; p < .05) also demonstrated significance. In addition to the habituation effects seen in the autonomic variables, the implications of neutralization of postural homeostasis and lowering of emotional arousal are discussed along with consideration of the Eastern concept of 'nadis.'