We examined the somatotopical relationship between cortical activity and sensory stimulation of reflex areas in reflexology using functional magnetic resonance imaging.
Three reflex areas on the left foot, relating to the eye, shoulder, and small intestine were stimulated during the experiment.
A statistical analysis showed that reflexological stimulation of the foot reflex areas corresponding to the eye, shoulder, and small intestine activated not only the somatosensory areas corresponding to the foot, but also the somatosensory areas corresponding to the eye, shoulder, and small intestine or neighboring body parts.
Thus, the findings showed that reflexological stimulation induced a somatosensory process corresponding to the stimulated reflex area and that a neuroimaging approach can be used to examine the basis of reflexology effects.
by Nakamaru T, Miura N, Fukushima A, Kawashima R. Source Tohoku University School of Medicine, Sendai, Japan. Neurosci Lett. 2008 Dec 19;448(1):6-9. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2008.10.022. Epub 2008 Oct 14
by Flynn LL, Bush TR, Sikorskii A, Mukherjee R, Wyatt G. Source Department of Mechanical Engineering, College of Engineering, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA.
Reflexology is a common choice of women with breast cancer as supportive care during treatment. It involves stimulation of specific locations of the feet called reflexes using a specialised walking motion with the thumb of the reflexologist.
Reflexology has shown potential for the successful management of cancer and treatment-related symptoms and improvement in physical functioning; however to date, the mechanism of action for these improvements is unknown.
One confounder to the study of reflexology is the 'human factor'. To study the effects of the stimulation of the reflexes independent of the 'human factor', there is a need for an alternative method for the delivery of reflexology.
The objective of this work was to design and create a robotic reflexology device that would deliver a breast cancer-specific reflexology protocol to the feet of patients.
A prototype robotic reflexology device was developed and tested for feasibility, safety and acceptability with breast cancer survivors (n= 13), and preliminary efficacy in symptom management and enhanced functional status with a sample of women undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer (n= 13).
Safety, feasibility and acceptability were established, and significant improvements from pre- to post-device-delivered reflexology were seen in symptom severity among women on chemotherapy.
Eur J Cancer Care (Engl). 2011 Sep;20(5):686-96. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2354.2011.01268.x. Epub 2011 Jul 19.