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Dance Therapy For Parkinson's Patients Essay

2854 words - 12 pages


“Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a progressive, neurodegenerative disease that belongs to the group of conditions called motor system disorders”. PD cannot yet be cured and patients get worse over time as the normal bodily functions, including breathing, balance, movement, and heart function worsen.

The most common type of Parkinson disease is idiopathic Parkinson’s disease (PD), first described by James Parkinson, an English physician, in 1817 as paralysis agitans (the shaking palsy).

Parkinson’s disease most often occurs after the age of 50 and is one of the most common nervous system disorders of the elderly. PD is caused by the progressive loss of dopamine brain cells ...view middle of the document...

For example, in Argentine tango participants can be taught a very specific strategy for walking backward. They are taught to keep the trunk over the supporting foot while reaching backward with the other foot, keeping the toe of that rear foot in contact with the floor as it slides back and shifting weight backward over the rear foot only after it is firmly planted. (iii) Dance also addresses the third recommended component, balance exercises. Throughout dancing, particularly with a partner, one must control balance dynamically and respond to disturbances within the environment (e.g. being bumped by another couple).
In fact, people who have danced regularly over their lives are known to have better balance and less gait problems than non-dancers. Balance training done in dance classes has been shown to be successful in improving balance in elderly people. Dance also could enhance strength and/or flexibility. Finally, dance can result in improved cardiovascular functioning, if done with sufficient intensity. Dance is an excellent form of aerobic exercise. It is also an enjoyable and socially engaging activity. In a social setting dance can enhance motivation. For these reasons, dance may be an excellent form of exercise for those with PD.

Benefits of Dance for PD Patients:

There are limited numbers of studies that examine the benefits of dance for people with PD. One of the earliest studies by Westbrook BK and McKibben H, they compared a 6-week period of dance/movement therapy to a traditional exercise program1. They observed improvements in movement initiation in the dance group but not in the exercise group. Another early study by Berrol CF, Ooi WL and Katz SS, examining the benefits of dance therapy for individuals with neurological deficits (specifically traumatic brain injury and stroke) described improvements in balance, gait, and cognitive performance with a twice weekly, 5-month intervention.2 Within a few years of this study, the Mark Morris Dance Group and the Brooklyn Parkinson Group collaborated to develop “Dance for PD”, a dance/movement class. This class continues to be offered on a weekly basis and a recent study of this class suggests that it positively impacts quality of life. While these studies have all focused on dance/movement therapy using free-form movement and often dancing without a partner, another line of research has examined the benefits of partnered dance, with a specific emphasis on Argentine tango.3

McKinley and colleagues were the first to report the benefits of Argentine tango for frail elderly people who did not have PD.4 In comparison to a group who walked for exercise, those who danced tango showed greater improvements in balance and walking speed. They also noted improved strength in both groups, as assessed by a timed sit-to-stand test. This work inspired researches to pursue studies examining the effects of tango on functional mobility in individuals with PD.
Individuals with PD demonstrated...

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