John St. Claire
Mar 9, 2023
A literary review
Physioacoustic stimulation is a modality using speakers in a modified lounge chair to play low frequency vibrations (120 Hz or less) into a persons body at very close proximity (Karkkainen, 2006). The sound is controlled by a computer which moves the sound to various parts of the body. Physioacoustic stimulation uses sounds but is unrelated to hearing, it benefits the hearing impaired in the same way as it does people who can hear (Karkkainen, 2006). The three types of receptor cells which respond to vibration are Merkel cells, Meissners corpuscles and Pancinian corpuscles and each will habituate to stimuli at a different rate (Zimmerman, 2014). Physioacoustic therapy uses sound to create a tactile sensation which moves to different places in the body so as not to tire the receptor cells (Karkkainen, 2006).
There have been numerous studies done using Physioacoustic stimulation which demonstrated successful treatments for various types of physical and mental conditions including sleep (van Os, 2012), Parkinson’s disease (Mosabbir, 2020), creativity (Norlander, 1998), pain management (Boyd-Brewer, 2004), post operative healing (Taylor, 2003), gambling addiction (Jaakko, 2003), and many others (Boyd-Brewer, 2003). The general conclusion is that people relax into a therapeutic state, stress which was held in the tissues dissipates and; ”They enter into an optimal state for emotional learning because they feel totally safe. It is a state where persons can empty their head of all thoughts” (Karkkainen 2006).
According to one researcher this phenomena suggests physioacoustic stimulations may have an effect on GABA (gamma-amino butyric acid), the most common message-altering neurotransmitter in the brain (Karkkainen 2006). If threatening information is perceived, glutamate will quickly get this information to the amygdalae. If the information is non threatening, the GABA system blocks this transport pathway.
The Nanasawa Institute in Japan holds patents for an acoustic bed used for physioacoustic stimulation. Although I was unable to access the published Japanese research, the claims made on the company website based on this research are noteworthy.
Research found that patients recalled subconscious memories of when they were in their mother’s womb while using the bed. The first sound humans hear and feel is vibrations in the womb. The rhythmical heartbeat of a healthy and relaxed mother gives her fetus and baby a sense of security. This means the most profound memory of sound vibration in the human experience is in the primordial confines of a mother’s womb.
As we grow, we lose our conscious memories of the womb; however, we don’t forget on a subconscious level. The research found that we feel a sense of security and relaxation when experiencing a similar condition to our fetal state.