In 2020, it was estimated that 145,000 people in the UK live with a Parkinson’s Disease diagnosis.
Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative disease, mainly affecting people of retirement age, for which there is no known cure and so it is a question of how best to manage the condition.
It occurs when there is a loss of the majority of cells in part of the brain called the substantia nigra which produce a chemical called dopamine. Dopamine acts as a messenger between the parts of the brain and nervous system that help control and coordinate body movement.
As a result, the main symptoms of Parkinsons are
- shaking/ tremor,
- stiffness/ rigidity
- slow imprecise movements
- depression and anxiety
- balance problems/ more prone to falls
- sleep and memory problems
In 2002, a research study was carried out at the University of Westminster :
Randomised controlled trial of Alexander Technique for idiopathic Parkinson’s Disease Stallibrass, Sissons, Chalmers. 2002
Its objective was to determine whether the Alexander Technique, alongside normal medication, is of benefit to people disabled by idiopathic Parkinson’s Disease.
93 people all with a medical diagnosis of Parkinsons Disease, were recruited for the trial and randomly divided into 3 groups:
Group 1 : Normal NHS care/ medication
Group 2: 24 sessions of Massage
Group 3: 24 sessions of Alexander Technique
Group 1 : no change
Group2: Massage : no significant change
Group 3: Alexander Technique sessions led to
- a significantly increased ability to carry out everyday activities compared with standard medical care.
- benefit maintained at 6month follow up.
- reduced need to take progressively stronger Parkinson’s medication
- improved balance, posture
- improved walking
- improved coping ability
- reduced stress
As a result, NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence ) the advisory body to the NHS , recommended in 2017 :
‘1.7.4 Consider the Alexander Technique for people with Parkinson’s Disease who are experiencing balance or motor function problems’
‘You may be referred for a therapy called the the Alexander Technique if you have problems with balance and movement. ‘
Here are comments from some of my Parkinson’s Disease clients:
‘With the Alexander Technique (AT), I have found I am moving better, my posture has improved and that has been remarked upon by many people including my Parkinson’s nurse and friends who haven’t seen me for months.’
‘I can confirm the the Alexander Technique is a real help in easing the symptoms of muscular tension, distorted posture and shuffling gait of Parkinsons Disease and also improves the characteristic low mood.’
‘After a session I feel overall more flexible, relaxed and upright, more balanced and less subject to tremors and tension. I think it is a beneficial activity for Parkinson’s sufferers like myself’