Objective: To determine whether the Alexander Technique, alongside normal treatment, is of benefit to people disabled by idiopathic Parkinson's disease.
Design: A randomized controlled trial with 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.
Setting: The Polyclinic at the University of Westminster, Central London.
Subjects: Ninety-three people with clinically confirmed idiopathic Parkinson's disease.
Interventions: The Alexander Technique group received 24 lessons in the Alexander Technique and the massage group received 24 sessions of massage.
Main outcome measures: The main outcome measures were the Self-assessment Parkinson's Disease Disability Scale (SPDDS) at best and at worst times of day. Secondary measures included the Beck Depression Inventory and an Attitudes to Self Scale.
Results: The Alexander Technique group improved compared with the no additional intervention group, pre-intervention to post-intervention, both on the SPDDS at best, p = 0.04 (confidence interval (CI) -6.4 to 0.0) and on the SPDDS at worst, p = 0.01 (CI -11.5 to -1.8). The comparative improvement was maintained at six-month follow-up: on the SPDDS at best, p = 0.04 (CI -7.7 to 0.0) and on the SPDDS at worst, p = 0.01 (CI -11.8 to -0.9). The Alexander Technique group was comparatively less depressed post-intervention, p = 0.03 (CI -3.8 to 0.0) on the Beck Depression Inventory, and at six-month follow-up had improved on the Attitudes to Self Scale, p = 0.04 (CI -13.9 to 0.0).
Conclusions: There is evidence that lessons in the Alexander Technique are likely to lead to sustained benefit for people with Parkinson's disease.