Research2by Robert Webb, Luis Eduardo Cofré Lizama and Mary P. Galea

A series of Feldenkrais Method classes held twice a week for 30 weeks resulted in improvements on the Four Square Step Test for dynamic balance and also changes in gait among older adults with osteoarthritis, according to recent research.

The study, “Moving With Ease: Feldenkrais Method classes for people with osteoarthritis,” was a prospective study involving 15 people with a mean age of 67 years. In order to be included in the study, subjects had to be diagnosed with osteoarthritis of the hip and also be able to get up from the floor, walk for six minutes and manage their pain.

The Process

For the intervention, the one-hour “Moving With Ease” classes took place twice a week in three 10-week segments with a short break between segments, for a total of 30 weeks and 60 classes. The main goal of the program was to improve hip, knee and ankle function to improve overall function, and each of the three 10-week segments had a theme.

The first segment focused on increased awareness, self-care and range of motion. The second segment focused on the function of the pelvis and lower limbs, and the third section focused on boosting balance and improving walking, as well as integrating ankle, knee and hip function during walking.

Evaluation

Outcome measures for the study were assessed before and after the 30-week program. The evaluations included the timed up-and-go test for physical function, the Four Square Step Test for dynamic balance, the stair climbing test for leg power and the six-minute walk test for endurance.

“For gait analysis, reflective markers were attached according to the Vicon Plug-in Gait model,” state the study’s authors. “An eight-camera motion measurement system and three AMTI force plates were used to collect kinematic and kinetic data at the ankle, knee and hip.”

There also was an assessment of quality of life, the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities osteoarthritis index, and the Human Activity Profile, which measures physical activity. Participant comments about the program were gathered at the end of the 30-week class.

Results

“The results, high class attendance and survey feedback indicate that a 30-week series of Feldenkrais classes held twice per week was feasible in the community setting and may be acceptable for other people with [osteoarthritis],” state the study’s authors. “The lessons led to improvements in performance of the Four Square Step Test and changes in gait.”

Sources: Merri Community Health Services, Coburg, Australia; MOVE Research Institute, Amsterdam, Netherlands; Department of Medicine, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia. Originally published in September 2013 in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

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