WINTER PARK, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) - Uncontrollable tremors, and problems with balance and speech. They're just a few of the issues Parkinson's patients deal with every day. While medicine and exercise can help, the cha-cha and the Charleston may also reduce symptoms.
David Akins and his wife Marti dance at home for pleasure.
"We usually dance to a rock and roll record," David Akins told Ivanhoe.
"More and more we're seeing neurologists and physicians referring people to these classes," David Leventhal told Ivanhoe.
Leventhal is co-founder of Dance for PD. It began as a way for Parkinson's patients to just have fun.
"Make them move bigger and more freely and more rhythmically, than they might in everyday life," Leventhal explained.
But people like Kay Perkins felt their symptoms improving.
"We find ourselves having opposing muscles fighting one another and this gives us an opportunity to walk like normal people and do normal things," Kay Perkins a Dance for PD participant, told Ivanhoe.
Neurologist Sheila Baez-Torres admits no one fully understands why it works.
"We're highly recommending it," Dr. Baez-Torres told Ivanhoe.
Studies from the National Institutes of Health and Johns Hopkins University suggest dancing for Parkinson's can improve balance and walking, Dr. Baez-Torres says it might also help with cognitive problems.
"You have to learn the steps and match the steps you learn with rhythm," Dr. Baez-Torres concluded.
David Atkins says the class is improving his quality of life.
"I could dance all night," he concluded.
Studies show the dancing meets many, if not all the recommended components of exercise programs designed for Parkinson's patients. But more research needs to be done to figure out the long term effectiveness of dance therapy. Right now, there are about 60 Dance for PD programs around the world. To learn more about how to bring one to your community go to www.danceforparkinsons.org.
ABOUT DANCE FOR PD: Dance for PD® offers dance classes for people with Parkinson's disease in Brooklyn, New York and, through our network of partners and associates, in more than 75 other communities around the world. In Dance for PD® classes, participants are empowered to explore movement and music in ways that are refreshing, enjoyable, stimulating and creative. An on-going collaboration between the Mark Morris Dance Group and the Brooklyn Parkinson Group, the Dance for PD® program also provides teacher training and nurtures relationships among other organizations so that classes based on our model are widely available. (Source: www.danceforparkinsons.org)
THE DANCE FOR PD® APPROACH: Dance for PD® teaching artists integrate movement from modern and theater dance, ballet, folk dance, tap, improvisation, and choreographic repertory. The Dance for PD® class is an aesthetic experience that uses the elements of narrative, imagery, live music and community to develop artistry and grace while addressing such PD-specific concerns as balance, flexibility, coordination, isolation and depression. (Source: www.danceforparkinsons.org)
THE RESEARCH: Several studies about the benefits of dancing for Parkinson's patients have been done in the U.S. and abroad. For example:Dr. Sarah Ying from Johns Hopkins University led a 2009 study of a Dance for PD class based on the MMDG/BPG model and found objective improvement in gait mobility, as well as self-reported quality of life improvement, among nine participants with PD in a weekly one-hour class. According to the Neura's special report of June 2010, "After each series, the majority of patients reported the same or better scores on all 8 QoL [Quality of Life] domains measured by the Short Form (SF)-36." (Source: www.danceforparkinsons.org)
In June 2011, English National Ballet and University of Roehampton announced the findings of a groundbreaking research project that reveals that dance benefits people with Parkinson's by relieving debilitating symptoms, aiding short-term mobility and significantly improving stability, as well as contributing to social inclusion and artistic expression. (Source: www.danceforparkinsons.org)
FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Anissa Mitchell Parkinson's Outreach Center (407) 303-5295
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