Dance training “drastically” reduces the progression of Parkinson’s disease

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Dancing helps slow the progression of motor and non-motor symptoms and improves the quality of life for patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD), new research shows.

Over 3 years, weekly participation in dance lessons “dramatically” reduced the expected decline in motor function and dramatically improved speech, tremors, balance and stiffness, the researchers report.

Dance training also appears to have beneficial effects on cognition, hallucinations, depression, and anxiety.

“These results strongly suggest the benefits of dancing for people with PD as an adjunct to a normal treatment regimen,” the investigators note.

While the mechanism of benefit is unclear, dance training may help “form neural network nodes that either help strengthen damaged networks or create neural roadmaps that resolve damage.” Study investigator Joseph DeSouza, PhD, senior researcher and associate professor, Department of Psychology, York University, Toronto, Canada, said Medscape Medical News.

The study was published online on July 7 in Brain science.

Multiple benefits

PD is a neurodegenerative disease associated with progression of motor dysfunction during the first 5 years after diagnosis. The annual rate of motor decline, as determined by the Movement Disorder Society’s Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (MDS-UPDRS), is between 5.2 and 8.9 points.

Previous studies that evaluated various dance styles in patients with PD showed beneficial effects in walking speed, balance, locomotion, and aspects of quality of life.

To further their research, DeSouza and her co-author Karolina Bearss, a doctoral candidate at York University, followed 16 patients with mild to moderate PD who participated in a weekly dance class at the National Ballet School of Canada and Trinity St. Paul Church.

Dance for Parkinson’s disease, which is an established dance program, involves both aerobic and anaerobic movements. The protocol begins with a seated warm-up, followed by bar work, and ends with a movement on the floor. All participants learn the choreography for an upcoming show.

In the study, 16 PD patients who did not participate in dance lessons served as control patients.

Over 3 years, the daily rate of motor decline, as indicated by MDS-UPDRS Part III scores, was zero in dancers (slope = 0.000146), indicating no motor impairment, while in non -dancers, the motor decline during follow-up was as expected (P <.01 report the researchers.>

By modeling the data, the researchers determined that after completing 1,000 days of dance training, dancers would achieve a motor score of 19.07, compared with a score of 28.27 for non-dancers.

“Our data further showed that dance training would slow the rate of progression of PD motor impairment, as measured by the UPDRS III, by nearly 3 points per year compared to our subjects in PD. MPs who have not trained, “report the researchers.

Dance training also had a beneficial effect on motor and non-motor aspects of daily life and on motor complications, for which there was no significant decrease in PD dancers.

“For people with Parkinson’s disease, even when it is mild, motor impairment can impact their day-to-day functioning – which they think for themselves. Many of these motor symptoms lead to it. isolation because once they get extreme, these people don’t want to go out, ”DeSouza said in a press release.

“These motor symptoms lead to other psychological problems, depression, social isolation, and eventually the symptoms worsen over time. Our study shows that training with dance and music can slow this down and improve them. life and their daily functions, ”he added.

“Great potential”

Contacted for comment, Demian Kogutek, PhD, director of music therapy, Evansville University, Evansville, Indiana, said these preliminary results from a longitudinal study are “promising.”

“I believe that dance therapy has great potential for PD. The longitudinal aspect of this study undoubtedly adds to the current literature. Although this is a standardized assessment, it is somewhat little subjective, ”Kogutek said. Medscape Medical News.

Going forward, Kogutek said he would like to see other objective outcomes measured, such as objective assessments of balance, gait, hand strength and dexterity.

Also weighing in on the results, Karen Lee, PhD, President and CEO of Parkinson Canada, said her organization is “encouraged by these preliminary results because exercise and healthy activity are important for people with dementia. Parkinson disease. This study is one of a growing body of research exploring the link between the impact of activities and the motor and non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

“This research adds to the growing evidence of the importance of exercise in the management of Parkinson’s disease, and we encourage people living with Parkinson’s disease to incorporate exercise into their approach to Parkinson’s disease. management of their health, ”said Lee. Medscape Medical News.

Funding for the project is being provided in part by a Discovery Grant from the National Science and Engineering Research Council and by donations from the Irpinia Club of Toronto and others. DeSouza, Bearss, Kogutek and Lee have not disclosed any relevant financial relationship.

Brain science. Published online July 7, 2021. Full text

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