Analogy learning, 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 aims to establish the feasibility and potential benefits of analogy learning in enhancing stride length regulation in people with Parkinson’s.
Walking performance of thirteen individuals with Parkinson’s was analysed using a Codamotion analysis system. An analogy instruction; “following footprints in the sand” was practiced over 8 walking trials. Single- and dual- (motor and cognitive) task conditions were measured before training, immediately after training and 4-weeks post training. Finally, an evaluation form was completed to examine the interventions feasibility.
Data from 12 individuals (6 females and 6 males, mean age 70, Hoehn and Yahr 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.