Dancing is good for Parkinson’s. That’s the assertion that underpinned my attendance at a three-day conference in Glasgow in early October 2017. The world of dance, for those of you who like me are uninitiated, involves a great number of people from just about every country and culture. There are specialisms for older people, children, people with physical disabilities, mental disabilities, Parkinson’s, dementia, and so forth.
Dancing is good for Parkinson’s. There is research that says so. It’s good for your physicality, your emotional being and your spiritual being. It can generate change, it can bring people together. It can help to alleviate some of the negative effects of a condition like Parkinson’s and the accompanying side-effects of some of the medication that goes with it, albeit that might only be for the duration of the lesson, although there was some research to show these benefits to last for up to a day.
Dancing is good for Parkinson’s. Or is it? There is research that says it makes no difference. But then again it depends what you mean by “dancing”. It also depends what you mean by “good for”. And as I’m sure you can imagine, this creates scope for lots of debate. And it’s a serious debate. Many of the academics who study dance, including those researching its impact on people with Parkinson’s are themselves dancers. They bring an understanding of the discipline to their research. They also bring their experience of dance to their work. They can tell when there’s a mismatch between what they see taking part in dance and what might be uncovered by specific pieces of research into the benefits or otherwise of dance on Parkinson’s.
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