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Aging with Parkinson’s Disease: Dance to Reconnect

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The video of the Stanford dance program for their patients with PD is an inspiring must-see.

If you or someone you know has Parkinson’s Disease (PD), you know the negative impact  it has on the physical, cognitive and mental health of the person. One of the most frustrating aspects is the awareness of how the symptoms may progress and how this can create a sense of dread for the person and their care partners. However, ongoing research offers hope. There are newer treatments and approaches that are gaining traction to help reduce the devastation of PD. And some are coming from some unexpected places.

While all physicians recommend activity and exercise for a variety of illnesses, neurologists are enthusiastically steering their PD patients to dance. Specialists have learned from the community that dance is a therapeutic and empowering source for people with this disease.  Dance for PD was started in 2001 in Brooklyn when Olie Westheimer of the Brooklyn Parkinson Group approached the celebrated Mark Morris Dance Group to create a dance class for people with PD. This collaboration became a positive growth experience for both the professional dancers and the students and Dance for PD was born. Since then, the Dance for PD participants have been subjects in a number of studies which validate the benefits of the program. The program has grown and is available in many parts of the country and around the world. For those who do not live near available classes with certified Dance for PD instructors, a series of home DVDs may be obtained.

Dance is so beneficial to those with PD that Stanford University’s Neuroscience Health Center has in fact built a dance studio in their clinic. This story is beautifully described in this article from their website.  It’s more than physical therapy. Dance connects people to their former abilities and sense of self. The video of the Stanford dance program for their patients with PD is a must-see and will inspire you.

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