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.
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.
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.
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.