Effects of different pressure at foot reflexology areas of brain on electroencephalogram in healthy adults

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Chatlerk Wongcharoen
Wilawan Incee
Supawadee Thajoy
Siwarit Rassameejan
Kitiya Kowitthayanon
Sompiya Somthavil
Onuma Boonyarom
Kanokwan Srisupornkornkool


Background : The feet are the most important organs for supporting body weight. They recognize changes that occur under them, and then they send the information to the brain for processing of the appropriate responses.
Wearing unsuitable shoes causes decreased sensation underneath the foot. Unsuitable shoes can also increase the risk of falls. The feet are organs that should be cared for; one method of maintenance is a reflexology foot massage. Theoretically, the foot has response areas associated with various parts of the organ systems of the body. Whenever any position under the foot is stimulated, the function of the associated reflex area will change the function of the organ. There are several ways to evaluate the response; however, there are multiple advantages to measure brainwaves (electroencephalograms) in this application. Furthermore, there is no study of the foot using reflexology at the brain representation areas on an electroencephalogram.

Objective : To investigate the effect of different pressures placed on the foot using reflexology at the brain representation areas on an electroencephalogram in healthy adults.

Methods : The participants included 40 healthy females, 20 - 30 years old, who were randomly assigned to experimental group (foot reflexology at brain representation areas, n = 20) and control group (light touch at brain
representation areas, n = 20). The participants’ frontal, parietal, temporal, central, and occipital lobes were recorded using an electroencephalogram (EEG) before foot reflexology or light touch was performed, during
the performance of foot reflexology or light touch at middle of foot and big toe, and after foot reflexology or light touch was performed.

Results : The results showed a significant difference in the frequency of electroencephalogram features in frontal lobe, parietal lobe, temporal lobe, central lobe and occipital lobe of the brain during the test period in
both the experimental and control groups, left and the right feet (P <0.003). Before and during tests of foot reflexology or light touch at the middle of the foot and big toe, a high alpha brain wave (11.0 - 12.9 Hz) was
recorded; whereas after the intervention, a beta brain wave (13.0 - 30.0 Hz) was recorded. Moreover, no significant difference (P >0.003) between the experimental and control groups was found during all periods of the test.

Conclusion : During foot reflexology or light touch, high frequency of alpha wave in brain was recorded, but immediately after foot reflexology or light touch, beta wave in brain was recorded. It indicated that brain was increasingly stimulated. Also, similar electroencephalogram features were found in both the foot reflexology and light touch groups of both feet.

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