Eurythmy therapy, a mindfulness-oriented movement therapy in Anthroposophic Medicine (AM) which was introduced by Rudolf Steiner in 1912, focuses on the relationship between life forces, the physical body, soul and spirit (1–3). In eurythmy therapy specific movements and gestures for the respective indication are taught to patients by the therapists, mostly in individual therapy sessions. They are intended as expressions of e.g. music, speech and soul through the whole body. Patients are guided to inwardly ‘feel’ these movements and gestures. The aim of eurythmy therapy is to strengthen the salutogenetic resources of the patients and to stimulate somatic healing processes (1, 2, 4, 5).
Currently, eurythmy therapy is used for a variety of indications including e.g. diseases of the musculoskeletal system, the cardiovascular system, psychosomatic diseases, and respiratory organs. It is used for both acute and chronic diseases (5–7). The effectiveness of eurythmy therapy in a therapeutic context has been investigated in a number of studies; among these were single case studies, pre-post studies without control groups, and non-randomized comparative studies (2, 8).
Two systematic literature reviews concluded that eurythmy therapy is a relevant add-on therapy in the therapeutic context with beneficial effects on clinically relevant health-related outcomes (2, 8). A positive impact of eurythmy therapy was found e.g. on health-related quality of life (9–14), anxiety disorders (13, 15) and fatigue symptoms (16). A single-armed pilot study found beneficial effects on autonomic regulation and self-regulation in arterial essential hypertension patients (10). Basic research data underline rhythmic effects of specific eurythmy exercises on cardiac autonomic regulation (17). Regarding brain tumors in children and adolescents, a single-arm study has shown short-term effects on neuromotor and cognitive functioning after eurythmy therapy (18). The Anthroposophic Medicine Outcomes Study (AMOS), a prospective cohort study referring to patients with various chronic diseases, investigated the effects of a multimodal intervention including eurythmy therapy. Subgroup analysis of patients using eurythmy therapy as their main therapy modality showed positive effects on chronic low back pain and functional back-related disability (19, 20), asthma severity in children/adolescents with asthma (11), and core symptoms in 1-16 year-old patients with attention deficit with hyperactivity (ADHD) (14]. A positive impact of eurythmy therapy in five boys with ADHD was also found in a previous study. It showed positive results in e.g. concentration, and movement skills (21).
Currently, several interesting trials are completed and being published (e.g.): One randomized-controlled trial investigating the effectiveness of eurythmy therapy compared to yoga and physiotherapeutic exercises for chronic low back pain (Witten/Herdecke University, Germany, Charité Berlin, Germany, Gemeinschaftskrankenhaus Hävelhöhe, Berlin, Germany) (22). First data showed that, compared to the ‘gold standard’ physiotherapeutic exercises, yoga and eurythmy therapy were similarly effective in reducing pain, while there was a significant benefit for eurythmy therapy in improving SF-12's mental health component compared to yoga and physiotherapeutic exercises (23). Further, the Alanus University (Alfter, Germany) in cooperation with the ARCIM-Institute (Filderstadt, Germany) is conducting a study on the psycho-physiological effects (e.g. heart rate variability, blood pressure, respiration, pulse and heat development in the body) of eurythmy-therapeutic ‘sound movement’, and a study on the effectiveness of eurythmy therapy in pollen allergy. In addition, a study on stress-prevention through eurythmy therapy is ongoing at the Alanus University.
Désirée Poier, MSc. and Prof. Dr. med. Arndt Büssing;
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Abstract P27, p. 59.