U of C professors researching effect of dance on Parkinson’s disease

A research program from the University of Calgary is exploring how dance can help people with Parkinson’s disease.

Researchers are hoping that the combination of gross and fine motor skills involved in dance will help strengthen the connections between different parts of the brain so that healthy regions will take on the load from regions affected by Parkinson’s.

The brain is not divided into distinct sections as people thought, lead researcher Afra Foroud says, a neuroscientist and adjunct assistant professor with the U of C dance department.

“One thing the field of neuroscience is starting to explore is this understanding that the brain is not necessarily functioning in a compartmentalized way,” Foroud says.

While the brain can be divided up into general regions identified with memory, movement and vision, the brain is much more complex.

“The way that the brain works is that it incorporates many aspects of different regions to produce one behaviour,” Foroud says.

With that in mind, dance and kinesiology professor Anne Flynn and Foroud have partnered with Decidedly Jazz Dance and Parkinson’s Alberta as one of the case studies in a five-year, $2.5-million national research project funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada on Arts for Social Change, one of two case studies the U of C dance department runs.

The program teaches jazz dance twice a week to about 45 participants, both with and without Parkinson’s, taught by professional dancers.

The six-month dance program began in October with a number of assessment tests that had participants performing a number of tasks that can be difficult when dealing with Parkinson’s. Tasks include tying shoe laces, doing up buttons, pouring water into a glass from a jug and sitting down in a chair and standing up.

“These are things that seem quite mundane, right? We do them every day. We don’t even give them a second thought,” Foroud says. But with Parkinson’s these tasks become increasingly difficult.

The program will end in early April with the same series of tasks to determine if participants have improved along with a series of interviews to see how people feel after the program.

For Norma Male, 66, the dance class is the highlight of her week. She attends the class with her husband Bill Male.

“It’s one hour where we can both forget that I shake,” Norma says. The music, routines and camaraderie helps her and her husband forget for an hour about Parkinson’s, she says.

Her husband says the challenge of using the motor skills and putting them to music has been good for Norma.

“I think that she’s better off for it, absolutely,” Bill says. “That’s what the Parkinson’s disease needs, you need to keep challenging the brain.”

Flynn says she had the idea for the project after the university introduced a $500,000 project that introduced four pilot projects in the East Village in 2005, when the university was still considering building the downtown campus in the East Village instead of its current location on 8 St. and 8 Ave.

One of the four projects was the dance department’s Urban Dance Connect project which held dance classes for seniors in the YWCA. The program is still running at the Golden Age Club in partnership with the Alex Community Health Centre.

Dance classes for people with Parkinson’s is not new. Flynn says work with Parkinson’s and dance has been developing over the last decade, including at Mark Morris Dance Group in New York. But Flynn was interested in beginning a project to research the benefit dance has on people with Parkinson’s.

Last year between January and March, with Decidedly Jazz Dance and the help of U of C professor Dr. Bin Hu, Flynn began a pilot project with 27 people. Flynn says the project was a success.

“The music, the movement — it just takes over. There’s no stopping it,” Flynn says. “Everybody came back every week.”

Between $10,000 from the Rozsa Foundation, the aid from the $2.5-million Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council project and seed funding from the U of C and from Parkinson Alberta, Flynn included a research component, brought in Foroud as a researcher this year and expanded the project to include two classes a week.

As a research project, classes are free for participants.

40 comments

  1. Great weblog here! Also your web site lots up fast!

    What web host are you using? Can I am getting your affiliate hyperlink
    to your host? I desire my website loaded up as fast as yours lol

  2. Hi there all, here every one is sharing such know-how, so it’s
    fastidious to read this blog, and I used to visit this web
    site all the time.

  3. Definitely believe that which you stated. Your favorite justification appeared to be on the net the easiest thing to have in mindof. I say to you, I definitely get annoyed while people considerconcerns that they just do not recognise about.You managed to hit the nail upon the highest as wellas outlined out the whole thing without having side effect , other folks could take a signal.Will probably be back to get more. Thanks

  4. Hi would you mind stating which blog platform you’re
    using? I’m looking to start my own blog soon but I’m having a tough time making a decision between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal.

    The reason I ask is because your design and style seems different then most
    blogs and I’m looking for something unique.
    P.S Apologies for being off-topic but I had to ask!

  5. Its like you read my mind! You seem to know so much about this,like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you could do withsome pics to drive the message home a little bit, but otherthan that, this is excellent blog. A great read.I’ll definitely be back.

  6. It’s going to be ending of mine day, however before
    ending I am reading this impressive article to increase my know-how.

  7. After going over a handful of the blog articleson your web page, I truly appreciate your technique of blogging.I book marked it to my bookmark site list and will be checking back in the near future.Please visit my web site too and tell me your opinion.

  8. I think other site proprietors should take this website as an model, very clean and wonderful user genial style and design, as well as the content. You’re an expert in this topic!

  9. I read this paragraph completely regarding the difference of latest and earlier technologies,
    it’s amazing article.

  10. Greetings! I’ve been reading your blog for some time now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and
    give you a shout out from New Caney Tx! Just wanted to
    say keep up the fantastic work!

  11. Great post. I was checking constantly this blog and Iam impressed! Extremely useful info particularly the last part 🙂 I care for such info a lot.I was looking for this particular information for a long time.Thank you and best of luck.

  12. Hi, i feel that i noticed you visited my blog thus i came to return the choose?.I’m attempting to to find things
    to improve my web site!I guess its ok to make use of a
    few of your ideas!!

  13. For latest information you have to pay a visit internet and on the web I found this web site as a finest website for latest updates.

  14. I think this is among the so much important information for me.And i am glad studying your article. However want to commentary on some normal issues, The website taste is ideal, the articles is in reality great: D. Excellent process, cheers

  15. Howdy just wanted to give you a quick heads up and let you know a few of the pictures aren’t loading correctly.
    I’m not sure why but I think its a linking issue.
    I’ve tried it in two different internet browsers and both show the same results.

  16. hi!,I love your writing very a lot! proportion we communicate extra about your post on AOL?I need a specialist on this house to solve my problem.May be that is you! Having a look ahead to see you.

  17. Hmm is anyone else having problems with the pictures on thisblog loading? I’m trying to determine if its a problem on my end or ifit’s the blog. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

  18. Thank you for the auspicious writeup. It in reality was a leisure account it. Glance complicated to more introduced agreeable from you! However, how could we communicate?

  19. Excellent beat ! I wish to apprentice while you amend your site,
    how could i subscribe for a blog web site?

    The account aided me a acceptable deal. I had been a little bit acquainted of this your broadcast
    offered bright clear concept

  20. My brother suggested I would possibly like this blog.
    He was totally right. This publish actually made my day.
    You cann’t imagine just how so much time I had spent
    for this info! Thanks!

  21. Hey There. I discovered your weblog the use of msn. That is a very neatly written article. I’ll be sure to bookmark it and come back to learn extra of your useful info. Thanks for the post. I’ll certainly return.

  22. Howdy! This is my first comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and tell you I truly enjoy reading through your
    posts. Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that go over the same subjects?

    Thank you!

  23. It’s genuinely very complex in this full of activity life to listen news on TV, therefore I only use web for that reason, and obtain the hottest news.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.