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Dance Inspires Movement, Improved Lifestyle for Parkinson’s Patients

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Feb 09, 2016

In a story for NPR, Ina Jaffe looked at how Dance for Parkinson’s Disease (PD), a program that began in Brooklyn over 15 years ago, has spread across the country and caught the interest of Parkinson’s researchers. Parkinson’s Disease, which inflicts over 10 million people around the world, causes movement difficulty, including stiff limbs, tremors, and poor balance. Dance classes, however, have been shown to ease the symptoms of Parkinson’s and give participants a chance to reconnect with movement.

Linda Berghoff and Laura Karlin, both of whom suffer from Parkinson’s, founded a Dance for PD program in Venice, C.A. in 2011. They stress that an important element of the program is making it rigorous and productive. "We don't dumb it down. I believe very much in making this a really joyful and challenging experience," Karlin says. "But it has to be both challenging and kind of satisfying."

Dr. Pietro Mazzoni, who teaches neurology at Columbia University Medical Center, is examining how Dance for PD impacts the progression of Parkinson’s. According to Mazzoni, studies show the positive impacts of dance, but it is less clear why a dance class has the effect that it does. "It may be that dance is not just a nicer form of physical therapy," he says. "It may be that it has the key to producing long lasting changes."

Listen to the full story here.

This resource brought to you by the National Guild for Community Arts Education.