Dance therapy: a Parkinson’s panacea?
Over the last 12 months, several videos have gone viral on social media sites claiming that dance therapy can have a profound and immediate effect on motor symptoms in Parkinson’s disease (PD). These anecdotal videos have been seen more than 4 million times on Facebook alone. Are these claims supported by robust peer reviewed evidence?
PD is one of the most commonly diagnosed neurodegenerative disorders and presents with several functionally limiting motor symptoms such as bradykinesia, reduced postural stability, rigidity, and freezing. Traditional physiotherapy has been shown to be an effective treatment in the short term for PD, but it has been observed that long-term compliance with therapy can be poor.
In this study, a systematic review of 19 randomised controlled trials (RCT’s), non RCT’S and case series studies was conducted to assess the effect of dance therapy on balance, gait freezing, disease severity and quality of life in ambulant PD patients. Several forms of dance such as Tango, Waltz, and Ballet, amongst others were included in the review. The results of the review showed modest but not always statistically significant short term improvements in outcomes as well as high levels of compliance and adherence.
The evidence provided by this review suggests that dance therapy may indeed lead to short term improvements in motor symptoms and quality of life in PD patients. However, in light of the high level of positive publicity dance therapy has received recently, physiotherapists should take care to manage individuals’ expectations before embarking upon dance therapy as a treatment for PD.
Watch one of the videos that has gone viral:
> From: Aguiar et al., Int J Gerontol 10 (2017) 64-70. All rights reserved to Elsevier Ltd. Click here for the online summary.