Patients Dance to Hold Off Symptoms of Parkinson’s

February 2, 2012

In Bonita Springs, FL a group of Parkinson’s patients and their caregivers come together once per week to dance. While show tunes or Broadway music plays, patients and caregivers do improv moves, ballet techniques, and partner dancing.

The exercise helps to hold back muscle problems that are commonly associated with Parkinson’s Disease. For many people, a diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease comes as a shock, since symptoms are usually first passed off as a consequence of aging. In addition to decreased motor skills due to Parkinson’s, there are other difficulties a person may not notice at first. Bradykinesia, which slows down movements, and swallowing and speaking can prove more difficult over time.

Currently, there is no definite cure for Parkinson’s disease, which has an estimated 50,000 confirmed cases in the United States. The symptoms of the disease usually occur after the age of 50. However, there are some famous examples of early onset cases. Both actor Michael J Fox, diagnosed in his 30s, and current Texas A&M basketball coach Billy Kennedy, 47, have been open about their early onset, bringing a much needed spotlight to the cause.

As for the dancers, one patient believes the exercise is helping. “All the medications deal with the symptoms of the disease, but there is no cure. We have worked through the disease for 20 years, and I feel there is no better way to retard the progress of the disease than regular exercise,” said Chuck McEwen after a dance class.

Learn more about a new Parkinson’s research study in Atlanta. Another Parkinson’s study is currently pending.