Can Relaxation Techniques Help With Tourette Syndrome?

For those who suffer with Tourette syndrome, the tics and other problems associated with this neuropsychiatric disorder can be overwhelming to say the least. Not only does a person have to contend with their own of control behaviors, but they also must face the social stigma that comes along with the condition.

Now a study conducted recently at the University of Montreal has found that a combination of relaxation techniques and cognitive behavioral therapy may hold some relief. According to this US News and World Report article from Ellin Holohan, therapy that included biofeedback, relaxation techniques, and “habit reversal”, improved fine motor skills in the study’s participants.

In the study, 10 Tourette patients were matched with a control group of 14 people who had no symptoms of Tourette or any other psychiatric disorder, based on age, sex, and intelligence. Both groups were tested on several scales measuring tic severity and other problems including anxiety and depression.

In one task, subjects were signaled by traffic lights on a computer screen, starting with a yellow light warning that in four seconds they would be asked to perform one of two actions, either pressing a lever three times in a row, or giving a Morse code signal with dashes and dots. In half the trials, subjects were signaled to stop by a red stop sign prior to a green “go” light. The aim was to measure problems with stopping an action, something difficult for Tourette patients, according to Lavoie.

After four months of behavioral therapy, the study group was retested, serving as its own control group, which Lavoie called a “more powerful” approach than comparing groups with and without therapy.

Read more about this study and how relaxation techniques and cognitive behavioral therapy are being use to help treat symptoms associated with Tourette Syndrome here.

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