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By Pat Buchanan, PhD, ATC, PT, GCFT, Chair, Esther Thelen Research Committee
Seriously? A new SenseAbility feature about research and scholarship regarding the Feldenkrais Method®? Yes, it’s true. As Chair of the Esther Thelen Research Committee of FEFNA, I along with others will share with you recent findings, interesting connections, and insights inspired by research and scholarship. We will be serious—but, not too serious—for a moment about systematic inquiries into topics and questions relevant to the Feldenkrais Method.
When I published my first tutorial and review article about the Feldenkrais Method in 2001, I reviewed just nine studies. For my 2012 chapter, I reviewed 59 publications, a growth of over 500% in a decade.1 Feldenkrais® research exists and it’s growing!
Here are more examples. I write this just after attending a major physical therapy conference, the Combined Sections Meeting of the American Physical Therapy Association. There were at least three research presentations that touched on the Feldenkrais Method. One of my colleagues, Kathy Mercuris, led a report on the benefits of a weeklong intensive “stroke camp” that included Feldenkrais lessons among the activities for people who had strokes years before. Another group led by Brianna Richardson reviewed the literature and concluded that Feldenkrais lessons are beneficial for balance conditions. My research indicated a significant proportion of US Feldenkrais teachers are also physical therapists who blend traditional health care with complementary approaches to improving function2.
Late last summer, attendees at the record-setting Feldenkrais Method Annual Meeting “Embodying Neuroscience” had the opportunity to view nine research posters by Feldenkrais teachers/researchers from the US, Canada, and Australia. These presenters illustrated the range of research and scholarship activities recently completed or underway. Their abstracts are available for viewing as the current home page article “2012 Esther Thelen Research Symposium Poster Abstracts” on www.feldscinet.org. Several distinguished scholars from outside the Feldenkrais community shared their relevant work with us during the Esther Thelen Research Symposium, including Michael Merzenich, who demonstrated through many studies the ability of the nervous system to change from day to day and across the years.3
So, I repeat: Feldenkrais research exists and it’s growing! Of course, there’s room for a lot more growth. Plus, there’s the vast scholarship from other fields that has implications for the Feldenkrais Method. These are exciting times as researchers and scholars share insights that can deepen our understanding of our embodied experiences garnered from lying on the floor or table during our personal experiments with the Feldenkrais Method. Check back here next time to learn more. Seriously!
1You can access it here: http://www.intechopen.com/books/a-compendium-of-essays-on-alternative-therapy/the-feldenkrais-method-of-somatic-education. 2To read the poster abstracts, go here: http://apta-csm2013.abstractcentral.com/planner.jsp, click on “Continue as Guest” on the pop-up, and search by author’s last name. 3Did you miss it? See more at: http://www.feldenkrais.com/events/conference/2012_public/preview_symposium