Category: Complementary Integrative Rehabilitation Medicine; Neurodegenerative Disease (e.g. MS, Parkinson's disease); Cross-Cutting
Objective : To test an adapted Alexander technique (AT) group course to improve quality of life for care partners of people living with Parkinson's disease (PLwPD).
Design : We delivered an adapted AT program in seven cities in North Carolina (USA); groups met 90 minutes weekly for 10 weeks. Outcomes were assessed before and after the intervention. No comparison group was included.
Setting : The study was held in various general community settings including senior centers, churches and assisted living facilities.
Participants (or Animals, Specimens, Cadavers) : 65 participants (55 women and 10 men), aged 68 (+/-7 years) participated. Most were white, non-Hispanic college graduates caring for spouse/partners.
Interventions : Coursework included functional anatomy and self-management strategies, taught through verbal instructions, hands-on guidance, partnering activities, and interactive games. A unique feature of our program is that all activities are prefaced with strategic thoughts and verbal prompts to interrupt automatic reactions.
Main Outcome Measure(s) : Anonymous course evaluations, executive function (Stroop and Digit Span), balance (Mini BESTest), and self-report measures (mindfulness, fatigue, pain, stress, self-efficacy, and mood).
Results : Course attendance was 83%. Retention was high (83%). On a 0-10 scale, the mean rating was 9.5 for "enjoyed the interaction with other participants," 9.2 for "encountered new ideas," 8.4 for "learned skills to take care of myself emotionally," and 8.3 for "likely to use the new skills in my daily life." Executive function improved (p<.05). Neither balance nor any self-report measures showed significant improvement. However, there was strong correlation between improved self-reported mindfulness and increased self-efficacy and reduced fear and fatigue (p<.00005).
Conclusions : AT shows promise as a long-term self-management approach to ease caregiver burden. Group classes have the potential to provide cost-effective delivery with additional social benefits.
Monika Gross– Executive Director, The Poise Project, Candler, North Carolina
Ramyaa Ravichandra– Graduate Teaching Assistant, University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho
Rajal Cohen– Associate Professor, Department of Psychology & Communication Studies, University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho
Belinda Mello– Owner, AT Motion, Brooklyn, New York