December 16, 2011

Parkinson's: May I Please Have this Dance?

Crank “dance” and “Parkinson’s” into the Google search bar and… whammo: many hits. PWPs are using dance as therapy all around the world.

The exercise helps. The socialization helps. And not just for those with Parkinson's.

And there’s something about the music, too. Harvard neurology professor Dr. Daniel Tarsy, director of the Parkinson's disease center at Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, said: "When you hear music, it sort of drives the emotional parts of the brain." The music may bypass damaged brain circuitry.

I’m not surprised. As I've mentioned before, I "can't carry a tune in a basket" (to quote my junior high music teacher). And when I came out in the disco era, I would have loved getting out there on the dance floor, but I knew my gift for dance was like my nonexistent gift for song. But I'll let you in on a secret: in the complete privacy of my own home, I'll put on a Diana Ross CD and I become... John Travolta! When the dance ends, I feel better -- physically and emotionally.

The power of song and dance! Dancing is an excellent form of exercise. It builds strength and endurance. It helps us in the battle against falling, a repeated topic on the blog this past week.

The December 14 edition of the Huffington Post featured an article by Lindsey Tanner about Michael (71) and Roslyn (69) Lieb, a Chicago couple with PD. Together, they are discovering the wonderful benefits of dance at the Hubbard Street Dance company. Once a week, the Liebs go to free seminars, they dance, and they feel better.

"It just lifts the spirits," said Roslyn. "It does transport us, to a different planet where Parkinson's doesn't matter so much."

"We check our Parkinson's at the door and we're all one community, mutually supportive and we dance together," said Michael."It's just a marvelous experience."

Take a look at Michael, Roslyn, and their friends with PD, dancing together. Looking good!

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