Comparison of Two Relaxation Techniques to Reduce Physiological Indices of Anxiety in a Person with Mild Mental Retardation

ECU Author/Contributor (non-ECU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Courtney Kenner (Creator)
East Carolina University (ECU )
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Abstract: Purpose: Occupational therapists play an important role in improving the occupational performance of persons with mental retardation. Relaxation techniques are a preparatory activity used by occupational therapists to enhance occupational performance. When working with persons who are mentally retarded, one preparatory technique related to anxiety reduction is relaxation strategies. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of 2 relaxation treatment techniques: paced respiration technique and an object manipulation technique on heart rate as a physiological measure of anxiety, in a person with mild mental retardation. Methods: This study used a single subject alternating treatment design consisting of a 14 session treatment phase (paced respiration or object manipulation) followed by a best-treatment phase with 5 sessions. Each session consisted of an acclimation, treatment, and post-treatment period. Staff who worked with the participant on a regular basis were surveyed to ascertain their opinion of the social validity of the best treatment. Results: There were no statistically significant differences in heart rate when comparing the paced respiration to the object manipulation technique. The object manipulation technique was chosen as the best-treatment because it was found to have more of a lasting effect after the treatment was ended. Within each treatment, between the acclimation and the post period, each technique produced a statistically significant difference in heart rate. Staff agreed this research was socially valid. Discussion: Since both the paced respiration and object manipulation techniques individually reduced heart rate in an individual with mental retardation, both could be used to influence anxiety. Because staff viewed the object manipulation treatment in a positive manner, they may be more likely to implement this type of treatment. Occupational therapists working with individuals with mental retardation may find the use of these two relaxation methods effective as preparatory intervention strategies.  

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Language: English
Date: 2009

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