Parkinson’s is a progressive, neurodegenerative movement disorder.
The benefits of the Alexander Technique for people with Parkinson’s disease (PWPD)
were first highlighted by Chloe Stallibrass’s research in 1997 (see below for research papers). Several teachers have reported on working with PWPD. In 2016 Monika Gross started The Poise Project, a nonprofit organisation, with an initiative for bringing the Alexander Technique to PWPD. Also in 2016 The Walter Carrington Educational Trust (London) has sponsored the special training, including obtaining practical experience, of Alexander Technique teachers in teaching PWPD.
‘Parkinson’s nurses are introduced to the Alexander Technique’ by Sabrina Keifer reports on introducing the Alexander Technique at the annual conference of the Parkinson’s Information Network, which serves Parkinson’s Disease nurse specialists.
‘Teaching the Alexander Technique to people with Parkinson’s’ by Chloe Stallibrass outlines some activities in lessons and approaches to teaching which were useful for many or most of the 29 participants in the Alexander Technique group of a the 2002 research trial.
‘Video presentation of work with a pupil with Parkinson’s Disease’ by Ellie Ribeaux describes the case history, supported by video footage, of a PWPD over a seven-year period.
‘The Alexander Technique and Parkinson’s disease: A case study in generating hope for a degenerative disease’ by Ruth Rootberg describes the lessons and the progress of ‘Sabrina’, a PWPD, over 20 lessons.
‘Two Parkinson’s patients who are students of the Alexander Technique comments on their experiences’ by Ruth Rootberg and Phyllis G. Richmond; contain reports by two PWPD, Shimon Malin and Laurel Miller.
‘Sometimes I don’t remember I have Parkinson’s – An interview with Alison Wood’ by Ruth Rootberg reports on a PD case who benefited from lessons in the Alexander Technique in having increased mobility and delaying effects of the disease such as not having independence.
‘On teaching people with Parkinson’s disease’ by Candace Cox is a brief case history of Alison Wood, a PWPD.
Chloe Stallibrass’ research consisted of a preliminary study in 1997 and a larger study in 2002.
‘An evaluation of the Alexander Technique for the management of disability in Parkinson’s disease – a preliminary study’ by C. Stallibrass; on the initial findings of 7 volunteers with PD who each received a median of 12 lessons, and concluded that ‘the Alexander Technique reduces depression and improves the management of disability’.
‘Randomized controlled trial of the Alexander Technique for idiopathic Parkinson’s disease’ by C. Stallibrass, P. Sissons, C. Chalmers reports on randomized controlled trial consisting of 93 people with PD, divided into three groups, one receiving lessons in the Alexander Technique, another receiving massage and one with no additional intervention. Measures were taken pre- and post-intervention, and at follow-up, six months later. The Alexander Technique group improved compared with the no additional intervention group, pre-intervention to post-intervention. The comparative improvement was maintained at six-month follow-up: The Alexander Technique group was comparatively less depressed post-intervention.
‘Retention of skills learnt in Alexander Technique: 28 people with idiopathic Parkinson’s disease’ by Chloe Stallibrass, Christine Frank, Karen Wentworth describes the responses to a questionnaire completed by a sample of 28 people with idiopathic Parkinson’s disease six months after receiving a course of lessons as participants in a controlled trial. The responses show that every participant retained some degree of skill.
‘Statistical evidence that the beneficial effect of learning and applying the Alexander Technique is generic’ by Chloe Stallibrass presents an analysis of data collected in th 2002 study ‘Randomized controlled trial of the Alexander technique for idiopathic Parkinson’s disease’. The performance of 25 activities by the Alexander Technique group was compared to two control groups. The results demonstrate that learning the Alexander Technique has generic beneficial impact on the performance of activities of different kinds, regardless of whether they are performed in lessons.
‘Lighten up: Specific postural instructions affect axial rigidity and step initiation in patients with Parkinson’s disease’ by Rajal G. Cohen, Victor S. Gurfinkel, Elizabeth Kwak, Amelia C. Warden, Fay B. Horak; on a pilot study with 20 people with PD, comparing two different sets of instructions during quiet standing and step initiation. The instruction based on the Alexander Technique led to better results than the instruction based on a popular concept of posture correction.
‘Long term effects of Alexander Technique in managing motor symptoms of young onset Parkinson’s disease’ by Candace Cox is a summary of a case study. The subject was diagnosed with PD in 2003 and had AT lessons from 2007 to 2013. The subject developed and then maintained a high standard of physical functioning; her posture and balance through sitting, standing and reaching are measurably better than they were 10 years ago.
The Walter Carrington Educational Trust (UK)
has since 2016 sponsored the special training, including obtaining practical experience, of Alexander Technique teachers in teaching people living with Parkinson’s (PLWP).
‘Alexander Technique and Parkinson’s disease’ by Regina Stratil; on an ongoing project by the Walter Carrington Educational Trust to sponsor specific training for Alexander Technique teachers in teaching people with Parkinson’s disease (PWPD) and sponsor lessons for a number of PWPD.
The Poise Project (USA)
is an independent nonprofit organisation created in 2016 by Monika Gross for the sole purpose of bringing the principles of Alexander Technique to a broader population.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE, UK) is an NHS body which provides official national guidance and advice guidelines for doctors and other healthcarers. NICE states:
The Alexander Technique may be offered to benefit people with PD by helping them to make lifestyle adjustments to affect both the physical nature of the condition and the person’s attitude to having PD.