Dancing with Parkinson’s Disease

La Trobe University in conjunction with the University of Limerick and St John of God Hospital in Venice is conducting an international study using dance to alleviate the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

From Irish set dancing to creative dance, Parkinson’s sufferers in Venice, Limerick and Melbourne have been enjoying the benefits of dancing.

‘Parkinson’s disease results in muscle rigidity and tremors making it difficult for sufferers to move’, said Professor Meg Morris, lead researcher of the project at La Trobe University.

‘But following trials in Melbourne last year we found  that Parkinson’s disease sufferers are “unlocked by dance”, and are able to move more freely. We think dancing can improve mobility and reduce the number of falls in people with Parkinson’s disease,’ said Professor Morris.

More than seven million people suffer from Parkinson’s disease worldwide, 100, 000 of them in Australia. With no cure, there is a need to treat and offer relief for people who have this chronic disease.

‘We hope this research will provide practitioners with more effective therapy. Not only does dance help reduce symptoms, it also increases wellbeing, happiness and life quality among patients,’ said Professor Morris.

‘Every week I hear from participants about how thankful they are for the dance classes and for the research we are undertaking. Through this study Australia is fast becoming a world leader in Parkinson’s disease research.’

Now a new study will be trialling the Argentine Tango in Fitzroy beginning May 23.  Researchers are calling for otherwise healthy men and women with Parkinson’s disease to participate in Argentine Tango dance classes. The classes will be led by a professional dance instructor on Thursdays and Saturdays from 11am – 12 noon, two per week for four consecutive weeks.

‘Not only does dance offer Parkinson’s disease sufferers an enjoyable activity which makes them feel better, it also gives some relief  to carers as the disease can be a heavy burden on them too,’ said Professor Morris.

Professor Morris has been involved in the Dancing for Parkinson’s project for two years and has worked with Parkinson’s disease patients as a physiotherapist for the last ten.

The Michael J Fox foundation has supported Professor Morris’ research over the last five years.

‘Without the support of foundations and universities, this study would not have been possible, we are very thankful this help,’ she said.

This study is part of a trial in collaboration with St John of God Hospital Parkinson’s Centre in Venice, Italy and the University of Limerick in Ireland.

To find out more about the upcoming Argentine Tango classes, contact Professor Meg Morris on 03 9479 6080.

ENDS

Media enquiries

Professor Meg Morris
Lead researcher, Head, School of Allied Health, La Trobe University
T   + 61 3 9479 6080
E   m.morris@latrobe.edu.au

Dian Lipiarski
Media and Communications Officer
T    + 61 3 9479 5517
E   d.lipiarski@latrobe.edu.au

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