Analogy learning in Parkinson's disease: A proof-of-concept study

South West PeninsulaNeurological
Published Date: 1 Mar 2016

Background/Aims:

Analogy learning is a motor learning strategy that uses biomechanical metaphors to chunk together explicit rules of a to-be-learned motor skill. This proof-of-concept study establishes the feasibility and potential benefits of analogy learning in enhancing stride length regulation in people with Parkinson's disease.

Methods:

Walking performance of thirteen individuals with Parkinson's disease was analysed using a Codamotion analysis system. An analogy instruction: ‘following footprints in the sand’ was practised over eight walking trials. Single- and dual-task (motor and cognitive) conditions were measured before training, immediately after training and 4 weeks post training. Finally, an evaluation form was completed to examine the intervention's feasibility.

Findings:

Data from 12 individuals (6 females and 6 males, mean age 70, Hoehn and Yahr grade I–III) were analysed; one person withdrew due to back problems. In the single-task condition, statistically and clinically relevant improvements were obtained. A positive trend towards reducing dual-task costs after the intervention was demonstrated, supporting the relatively implicit nature of the analogy. Participants reported that the analogy was simple to use and became easier over time.

Conclusions:

Analogy learning is a feasible and potentially implicit (i.e. reduced working memory demands) intervention to facilitate walking performance in people with Parkinson's disease.

Contact 
Dr Vicki Goodwin
V.Goodwin@exeter.ac.uk