Reha Kongresse 2018


Physiological and somatosensory responses to wet Therapeutic Body Wraps in healthy volunteers.

N. Korogod1, S. Krzysztof2, G. Bangerter2, E. Opsommer2 (1 Lausanne ; 2Lausanne)


Therapeutic Body Wrap (TBW) is an over century-old adjunct therapy used for clinical management of anxiety, agitation and disturbed body scheme in  the context of psychotic and mood disorders and is associated with calming effect. However, neither physiological nor somatosensory responses to TBW have been studied until now, which incited some to raise public debate about its harmlessness. Hence, the objective of this observational study was to investigate these first in healthy volunteers.


This study involved 26 (19 females, 7 males) healthy volunteers (mean age 27 years), who experienced TBW and compared to those having rest in supine position (13 participants, mean age 32, 9 females, 4 males).  Physiological parameters included heart rate (HR) and heart rate variability (HRV), breath rate (BR), core and peripheral (leg) skin temperatures. These data were collected before, during and after TBW/rest. The state of the nervous system was assessed by measuring stress hormones in saliva (cortisol (sC) and alpha-amylase (sAA)) and quantitative sensory testing (QST) before and after TBW/rest.


In several minutes from the start of TBW, BR and HR decreased significantly and slowly recovered back within 45 minutes. The SD1/SD2 ratio of HRV was also significantly increased during TBW, reflecting shift of autonomic balance from sympathetic towards parasympathetic nervous system activation. In contrast, both core and peripheral skin temperatures increased towards the end of TBW. Salivary cortisol level significantly decreased during TBW and stayed low after TBW. No changes were observed in sAA levels. Similar, but less pronounced changes were also observed in the group having rest. Quantitative sensory testing showed no somatosensory changes in both TBW and rest groups.

Discussion et conclusions

Decrease in the activity of sympathetic nervous system as well as cortisol levels and comfortable warming up of the whole body during TBW, might indicate overall relaxing effect of this intervention.

Importance pour la pratique

Based on these results, which are in line with clinical observations, TBW might be used in patients, who are unable to relax by themselves and/or without anxiolytic medication.  Further studies are necessary to investigate physiological response to TBW in clinical population.