A randomized controlled trial of the Alexander Technique for idiopathic Parkinson's disease run by the School of Integrated Medicine, University of Westminster, London, UK, demonstrated that Alexander Technique lessons led to an increased ability of people with Parkinson’s disease to carry out everyday activities. (Clinical Rehabilitation 2002)
Ninety-three people with Parkinson’s disease were randomly allocated to one of three groups: 24 one-to-one Alexander Technique lessons given by STAT-trained and registered teachers; 24 massage sessions given by trained therapeutic massage practitioners; or, no additional intervention. The massage arm was included because, in addition to any massage-specific benefits, it would provide an equivalent amount of touch and individual attention to the Alexander lessons an
d so would control for any non-specific effects of the lessons. All the participants continued to receive usual medical care, including their usual medication for Parkinson’s disease. The main aim of the study was to determine whether Alexander lessons would reduce motor and postural disability in individuals with Parkinson's.The study showed that Alexander lessons led to a significantly increased ability to carry out everyday activities compared with usual medical care (there was no significant change in the massage group). This benefit remained when the participants were followed up 6 months later. An additional finding, which deserves further study, was a significantly lower rate of change of Parkinson’s disease medication in the Alexander group than for either of the other groups (medication dose generally increases with time in this progressive disease). Participants also reported subjective improvements in balance, posture and walking, as well as increased coping ability and reduced stress.
As a result of these findings, the UK National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends that Alexander Technique lessons may be offered to benefit people with Parkinson’s by ‘helping them to make lifestyle adjustments that affect both the physical nature of the condition and the person’s attitudes to having Parkinson’s disease’.
The final, definitive version of this paper has been published in Clinical Rehabilitation 2002; 16: 705-718 by SAGE Publications Ltd, All rights reserved.
© Arnold 2002
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