M. Young, D. Kaczynski, R. Stanley, C. Haight, R.S. McCulloch

Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA

PURPOSE: Dance therapy has been shown to improve overall happiness of those with Parkinson’s disease (PD) and requires coordination of a range of physical movements, offering a way to improve motor control. Our aim was to specifically evaluate the potential benefits of the Mark Morris Dance for Parkinson’s (DfPD) course using quantitative biomechanics methods. METHODS: PD participants (4 male, 3 female, age: 71.2 ± 7.5 years) from Gonzaga University’s DfPD class participated.Data was collected immediately before and after three dance sessions throughout the 7 week protocol. Balance was evaluated as total center of pressure distance (CoP) travelled during a 30 s quiet standing test on a force plate. Range of motion (ROM) at the shoulder was evaluated during flexion and abduction of the dominant arm. Gait mechanics were evaluated using 2D motion captured during a timed 18.1m walking test. Markers were positioned on the left lower limb-on the greater trochanter, lateral center of the knee, and lateral malleolus. CoP, maximum shoulder abduction angle (FROM), maximum shoulder flexion angle (SROM), average stride length (SL), knee flexion angle range (KAR), walking speed (WS), and cadence (C) were compared within subjects. Differences before and after dance classes were evaluated with paired t-tests, and a one way repeated measures ANOVA compared longitudinal differences over multiple classes. RESULTS: Normalized CoP in Day 1 After decreased, though not significantly (% diff: 0.41±0.86%, p=0.806, n=6). There was a trend towards FROM increasing from Day 1 Before to Day 1 After (mean diff: 26.0 ± 26.7°, p=0.063), and FROM increased from Day 2 Before to Day 2 After (mean diff: 18.7 ± 3.2°, p=0.010). WS and SL showed some increase from Day 1 Before to Day 1 After, though this change was not significant (p>0.05). FROM and KAR were not positively correlated in Day 1 Before (r=0.651 p=0.234), however were positively correlated in Day 1 After (r=0.912, p=0.031). CONCLUSION: Nearly all measured metrics showed positive trends, though not significant, that may indicate that PD patients benefited from this dance class in balance, ROM, and gait mechanics. Our findings indicate a potential for a positive effect of the Mark Morris DfPD program that warrants further investigation.

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