Dr. Gammon M. Earhart, PhD, PT, Washington University School of Medicine, found “dance appears to meet many, if not all, of the recommended components for exercise programs designed for individuals with PD,” the study appeared in the European Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine. Since that time several studies have examined the benefits of dance for Parkinson’s disease.
A new study from Emory University, Atlanta, in this new small cohort study set out to determine the practicability and the effectiveness of delivering adapted tango for PD in the community, according to the study’s objective.
Four dance teachers without clinical qualifications trained in 15h of adapted tango methods.
The trial involved 31 patients with mild to moderate Parkinson’s disease and assigned to either receive adapted tango lessons or education program. Among the patients 24 received 20 tango lessons adapted for moderately mobility-impaired individuals.. Each lesson was 90 minutes long and was given over a period of 12 weeks. Nine patients were assigned to a patient-centered education program on Parkinson's disease management. Average age of participants in the education group (control group) was 74 years and 68 years in the tango group. Disease duration was 7 years in both arms.
Kathleen E. McKee, a fourth-year medical student at Emory University in Atlanta had noted that participants had worked in pairs during the sessions because "it takes two to tango.” Researchers believed it was important to mirror the partner aspect in the control intervention.
Everyday fall incidence, balance, spatial ability, quality of life and disease severity were evaluated before and after intervention. Patients were evaluated with eight standard instruments for assessing motor skills, balance, and cognition, as well as fall incidence, satisfaction, and overall health and quality of life.
In total 21 Tango and eight education had completed the program.
The United Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) were 27 in the education group and 28 in the tango group. One-third of both groups showed freezing of gait and just over half had fallen at least once in the previous year.
The Fullerton Advanced Balance Scale (FAB) scores showed an increase in both groups. These improvements faded somewhat in both groups by the final follow-up, although slightly more so in the control group.
Spatial cognition as evaluated with the Brooks Spatial Task improved significantly in the tango group but no change was seen the education group.
The research team noted three non-injurious falls (involving daily fallers) occurred in tango (out of 48 class’s total).
Questionnaires were given to participants at follow-up which asked about their attitude toward the intervention. Both groups strongly agreed they enjoyed the program. The Tango group agreed they would continue and noted mood, coordination and endurance improvements. In the control group, most also said they enjoyed it and would continue it, but did not report improvements in physical abilities or mood. However, most did indicate that their mental abilities were better than before.
In their conclusion the researchers write “Community-based adapted tango for PD can be safely delivered with high participant satisfaction/retention and potential for improving balance”.
Dr. Madeleine E. Hackney, PhD, Emory University of Medicine, Division of General Medicine and Geriatrics, was the other researcher for this study.
This study appears in the journal Neurology