In addition to the treatments mentioned above, lessons in the movement system, The Alexander Technique, can develop useful strategies for managing the day-to-day problems caused by the disease. In 2002, a medical trail  concluded ‘there is evidence that lessons in the Alexander Technique are likely to lead to sustained benefit for people with Parkinson's disease.’
Here, we’ll look at a case study of a gentlemen in his seventies who came to see me for lessons. He’d been diagnosed with Parkinson’s three years earlier and had progressed to the point where he was experiencing anxiety and depression due to the increasing unpredictability of his condition. This was compounded because he’d previously been very fit and had competed in sports and exercise all his life. With medication, he was still able to walk with the aid of a stick, but his main concern was ‘getting stuck’ when in public with his wife.
In the first lesson we looked at the basic mechanics of taking just one step. When preparing to move, I noticed he tensed his neck, shoulders and lower back in anticipating the step. However, these actions were not directly related to his condition, but rather due to his experience of difficulties in the past, and feeling he had to try harder to move. We focused first on just letting his leg bend so he could feel the weight passing onto the ball of his foot. This is a matter of releasing muscles to let the knee move forward, rather than pushing it.
We then worked on a strategy he could use if he felt about to freeze in public. Many sufferers describe the sensation of needing to get the first movement out of the way so they can start walking. So, instead of him trying to walk, we practised breaking the movement into discrete parts. To start, I asked him to nudge his walking stick gently with his knee. This required little effort on his behalf and prevented him thinking of the whole walking pattern and the subsequent tension and anxiety when nothing happened. Once his knee bent, he felt the other steps could follow.
The next lesson he was pleased to report this simple technique had helped and that he’d added a step of his own. Whilst waiting for his wife at the shopping centre, he felt a little tight and decided to put the stick nudge to the test. As he attempted the manoeuvre, he also uttered an expletive to himself that I won’t repeat here, and found he released the tension and moved forward. By using this method, he stopped himself getting set to move with the ‘wrong kind of effort’ and the expletive reduced the apprehension.
Of course, these techniques may not work every time, but having some strategies up your sleeve can give a sufferer at least some sense of having control that can also help with depression.
Roy Palmer is a teacher of The Alexander Technique with twenty years experience of working with people of all ages and abilities.
 Randomized controlled trial of the Alexander technique for idiopathic Parkinson's disease.