Tango may not cure Parkinson’s but
puts new step in their walk
Study looked at changes in patients’
motor abilities following a 12-week tango course
14, 2015 – A little tango dancing for patients with Parkinson’s disease
(PD), who are usually senior citizens over 60, may not have improved
their motor functions but it did significantly improve their balance and
functional mobility. Maybe most importantly, it seemed to encourage
greater appreciation of their therapy, improve cognitive functions and
The study looked at changes in
patients’ motor abilities following a 12-week tango course, and is also
the first study to assess the effect that tango has on non-motor
More about Parkinson's disease below news report.
According to these findings,
dancing the Argentine tango could have potential benefits for people at
certain stages in the development of PD. The study was by researchers at
the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital -The Neuro, McGill
University and the Research Institute of the McGill University Health
The study looked at whether a
social and physical activity linked to music, such as tango, could have
possible therapeutic value for PD patients who characteristically suffer
from motor dysfunctions - tremor, rigidity, gait dysfunction - as well
as from non-motor symptoms, such as depression, fatigue and cognitive
Forty men and women with idiopathic
Parkinson’s disease participated in the study, which involved studio
classes with two professional dance teachers. Patients were from the
Movement Disorders Clinics of the McGill University Health Centre.
“There’s accumulating evidence that
habitual physical activity is associated with a lower risk of developing
PD, which suggests a potential slowing of PD progression,” says Dr.
Silvia Rios Romenets, lead researcher in the study with a special
interest in Parkinson’s disease and dance therapy. Dr. Rios Romenets is
a clinical research fellow at the Movement Disorders Clinics at The
Neuro and Montreal General Hospital. ”
In the study, we found the tango
was helpful in significantly improving balance and functional mobility,
and seemed to encourage patients to appreciate their general course of
therapy. We also found modest benefits in terms of patients’ cognitive
functions and in reducing fatigue. No significant changes were detected
in overall motor functions.”
Argentine tango may be particularly
helpful for improving balance and functional mobility in patients with
PD. Tango requires specific steps that involve rhythmically walking
forward and backward.
This may be particularly helpful
for walking difficulties especially for freezing of gait and to prevent
backward falls. In addition, tango requires working memory, control of
attention, and multitasking to incorporate newly learned and previously
learned dance elements, to stay in rhythm with the music, and maneuver
around others on the dance floor.
Many PD patients find traditional
exercise programs unappealing. Over half of PD patients fail to get
their recommended daily dose of physical activity. There is however, a
connection between music and the dopamine systems in the brain – which
are pivotal for establishing and maintaining behavior.
So, combining music with exercise
in dance such as the tango, can increase accessibility, enjoy ability,
and motivation, as well as improving mood and stimulating cognition.
Also, the social interaction and social support involved in tango have
positive results on mood and compliance.
By NIH: National Institute of
Neurological Disorders and Stroke
PD usually begins around age 60,
but it can start earlier. It is more common in men than in women. There
is no cure for PD.
Parkinson's disease (PD) is a type
movement disorder. It happens when nerve cells in the brain don't
produce enough of a brain chemical called dopamine. Sometimes it is
genetic, but most cases do not seem to run in families. Exposure to
chemicals in the environment might play a role.
Symptoms begin gradually, often on
one side of the body. Later they affect both sides. They include
● Trembling of hands, arms, legs,
jaw and face
● Stiffness of the arms, legs and
● Slowness of movement
● Poor balance and coordination
As symptoms get worse, people with
the disease may have trouble walking, talking, or doing simple tasks.
They may also have problems such as depression, sleep problems, or
trouble chewing, swallowing, or speaking.
There is no lab test for PD, so it
can be difficult to diagnose. Doctors use a medical history and a
neurological examination to diagnose it.
A variety of medicines sometimes
help symptoms dramatically. Surgery and deep brain stimulation (DBS) can
help severe cases. With DBS, electrodes are surgically implanted in the
brain. They send electrical pulses to stimulate the parts of the brain
that control movement.
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