The Benefits of Dance for People with Parkinson’s Disease

Those living with Parkinson’s disease, a neurological disorder affecting the central nervous system, are aware of how impactful the motor impairments associated with the disease can be on everyday life. Major motor functions, as well as speech and facial expressions, are affected as symptoms progress and the distinct shuffling movement often seen has even been coined “Parkinsonian gait.”

While there is no cure for Parkinson’s, there are always new forms of treatment emerging to assist with the symptoms and other effects experienced by patients. One unconventional intervention is using the art of dance. Those who engage in the rhythmic movements of dance have seen improvement in motor functioning, as well as another heartwarming side effect: a sense of social inclusion and belonging.

There has been a good deal of research to back the claims that artistic movement can positively impact PD symptoms, including hand movements, facial tics and finger tapping. What is especially interesting is that one study found more improvement for people involved in a tango dance class, compared to a more generic exercise class. There is something uniquely effective about the rhythm of dance that conventional exercise cannot achieve.

One case study revealed how dance therapy can not only provide benefits for patients with mild or moderate symptoms, but with severe PD, as well. The individual—who usually uses a wheelchair for transportation—was tested and retested on balance, balance confidence, endurance and quality of life scales and demonstrated significant improvement in all areas. Overall, these results suggest that including alternative therapies in integrated care, along with traditional medicine, can drastically improve PD patients’ circumstances.

So, where can patients find dance therapy? One studio, named Dance for PD, has six locations in New York City and programs expanded to 120 different communities in 13 different countries. Participants engage in jazz, ballet, salsa and a variety of other forms of dance and are often pleased with the results. William “Curley” Sanders, who attends classes in one of the D.C. locations says, “As soon as I go in and we start [dancing], I forget about the Parkinson’s in a way, and the disorder that I have.”

A form of illness intervention that doesn’t feel like treatment seems to be the way to go, especially for people who have otherwise spent tons of time in doctors’ offices. Being free to express oneself through dance and connect with a community offers far more than physical symptom improvement, somethings that traditional medicine may lack: confidence and camaraderie.

45 comments

Shalley Lloyd
Shalley Lloyd8 months ago

I was around 58 when my thumb started giving me problems. As time passed i had other symptoms; hand tremors, restless sleep, muscle weakness, cognitive decline, voice spasm, stiff achy right arm and ankle. At 60 i was diagnose of PARKINSONS DISEASE, i was on Carbidopa and Pramipexole for two years, they helped alot but not for long. As the disease progressed my symptoms worsened, with my neurologist guidance i started on natural alternative PARKINSONS DISEASE treatment from R.H.F. (Rich Herbs Foundation), the treatment worked very effectively, my severe symptoms simply vanished, i feel better now than I have ever felt and i can feel my strength again. My neurologist was very open when looking at alternative medicines and procedures, this alternative parkinson disease treatment is a breakthrough.

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Elena Poensgen
Elena Poensgen3 years ago

Thank you

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Elena Poensgen
Elena Poensgen3 years ago

Thank you

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Carole R.
Carole R3 years ago

This sounds promising. Dancing is fun and good exercise for everyone.
Rock on ...................

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Bill Eagle
Bill Eagle3 years ago

Dance benefits everyone. It is a great way to exercise.

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Natasha Salgado
Past Member 3 years ago

Dance is beneficial 4 us all around. thanks

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Janis K.
Janis K3 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

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ERIKA SOMLAI
ERIKA S3 years ago

thank you for sharing

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Charles Wallis
Charles Wallis3 years ago

TFTS

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