Objective: To test the effect of the Alexander Technique (AT) on the management of disability and feelings of depression in patients with Parkinson's disease (PD).
Design: Subjects completed four self-report questionnaires, one set before the course of lessons and a repeat set when the lessons were ended. The postal questionnaires were mailed directly to the subject's home from the university with a stamped addressed envelope.
Subjects: Seven volunteers, with no previous experience of the Alexander Technique, diagnosed by consultant neurologists to have idiopathic Parkinson's disease.
Setting: The subjects were contacted by the nearest registered AT teacher and were taught in the individual teacher's practice rooms, in the same way as other pupils.
Interventions: Subjects received a median of 12 lessons.
Main outcome measures: The self-report measures were the BECK Depression Inventory, activities in daily living, body concept, and social functioning disability questionnaires.
Results: Post-lessons the subjects were significantly (p < 0.05) less depressed. They had a significantly more positive body concept and had significantly less difficulty in performing daily activities, and significantly less difficulty on the fine movement and gross movement subscales of the activities in daily living questionnaire.
Conclusions: The statistically significant results are consistent with the hypothesis that for PD patients on drug therapy, the Alexander Technique reduces depression and improves the management of disability, but in the absence of a control group and a larger sample, they cannot be said to confirm the hypothesis. The likelihood of the AT being effective in the management of disability for many PD patients, as shown in this study, makes further controlled research desirable.