UF receives grant to support study on effects of dance on Parkinson’s disease
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University of Florida Center for Arts in Medicine, part of the College of Fine Arts, has been awarded a $30,500 grant from the Parkinson Research Foundation to conduct research on the effects of dance on Parkinson’s disease.
The center’s weekly Dance for Life program is designed to help people with a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease improve their quality of life through enhanced physical well-being, social interaction, creative expression, and targeted improvements in Parkinson’s symptoms including impaired balance, strength, and mobility, cognitive impairment and language dysfunction.
The award will allow the center, in partnership with the UF Center for Movement Disorders and Neurorestoration, to document the physical and psychosocial impact of dance on the disease, and ultimately help provide this cost-effective, enjoyable intervention more widely to people living with Parkinson’s.
The general hypothesis for this study is that dance, like aerobic activity, activates neuroplasticity, particularly in the frontal lobes and, thus, enhances measures of walking ability, balance, cognition and language in people who participate in the Dance for Life program. The UF Center for Movement Disorders and Neurorestoration has recently designed a study assessing aerobic exercise under this same hypothesis. With funding from the Parkinson Research Foundation, the Center for Arts in Medicine will add a dance intervention group to this broader study, which is funded by the National Institutes on Aging.
This study, the largest scale study of dance and Parkinson’s disease conducted anywhere, will determine whether dance can be effective in improving disease severity, walking ability, balance function, cognition and/or language deficits, and compare the effects of aerobic exercise, dance and a commonly recommended stretch exercise program on cognition and language. The findings from this study may substantially advance the development of treatments for Parkinson’s. Drug-free programs could reduce the potential for adverse effects on patient well-being while addressing cognitive and language impairment.
For more information on the University of Florida Center for Arts in Medicine and the Dance For Life program, visit http://www.arts.ufl.edu/cam.