THE ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE
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Feasibility of group delivery of the Alexander Technique on balance in the community-dwelling elderly: preliminary findings
Activities Adaptation and Aging 2008;32:103–119
Batson G, Barker S.
This pilot study showed significant improvement in balance skills in elderly people who had received Alexander Technique instruction. Nineteen volunteers from residential homes and community centres participated in the study. The volunteers had an average age of 78 years and nearly all of them had a history of falls. Two recognised tests of balance were used in the study – the time it took to stand up from a seated position, walk 3 metres and return to sitting ('timed up-and-go’) and a 10-item test of different activities requiring balance, called the Fullerton Advanced Balance Scale. A third test assessed fear of falling during different daily activities. All tests were carried out independently by two physiotherapists. The Alexander Technique instruction consisted of 10 group sessions, each lasting 1.5 hours.
At the end of the period of instruction, the average timed up-and-go test for the group had improved by almost 2 seconds compared with pre-instruction; this improvement was thought to be due to improved overall performance, rather than increased risk taking. The average Fullerton Advanced Balance score for the group, was also improved. No clear change was, however, seen in the fear of falling test but it was thought that this may have been a reflection of participants’ more realistic perceptions of themselves and their environment, as much as confidence per se.
The Alexander Technique (AT) is a task-based approach to perceptuomotor learning that purports to improve coordination.
This study examined the feasibility of a 2-week intensive program of AT for improving balance and balance confidence in a group of ambulatory elderly.
Nineteen subjects with fall history (average age 78.8) participated. Balance outcomes included the Timed “Up and Go” (TUG) and the Fullerton Advanced Balance Scale (FAB), with the Modified Falls Efficacy Scale (MFES) for balance confidence. Compliance approached 100%. Analyses on 18 subjects were significant for the TUG (p = .006) and FAB for the group as a whole (Z = 1.946, p = .05); MFES scores were insignificant. A brief, intensive, group-delivered trial of exploratory perceptual learning appears feasible to incorporate into balance training and results in improved scores on balance outcomes. Further research of balance confidence is warranted to analyze discrepancies between self-reported and observed changes in confidence.