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Dance/movement therapy with groups of outpatients with Parkinson's disease


The treatment of medical and neurological illness is complicated by emotional factors. Dance/movement therapy is of potential benefit in such circumstances. The specific hypothesis was that dance/movement therapy would be more effective than exercise in the outpatient treatment of patients with Parkinson's disease. In a group setting, the effects of six weekly dance/movement therapy sessions on the neurological and emotional status of Parkinsonian patients were examined. A six week period of an ongoing exercise group was used in a crossover design as a control. Improvements in movement initiation were seen during the one-hour dance/movement therapy sessions, but not during the exercise groups. Although subjective improvements in mood were also apparent in the dance/movement therapy group, no statistically significant improvement in mild depressive symptoms could be documented. These results suggest that dance/movement therapy is useful as an additional approach in the treatment of Parkinson's disease patients.

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Additional information

We wish to acknowledge support from the Marian Chace Memorial Fund. We thank Dr. Richard Burns for his assistance, the Greater Washington Parkinsonian Society for their participation in this study, and Dr. Gary Westbrook for neurological evaluation of patients.

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Westbrook, B.K., McKibben, H. Dance/movement therapy with groups of outpatients with Parkinson's disease. Am J Dance Ther 11, 27–38 (1989).

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  • Depressive Symptom
  • Emotional Status
  • Disease Patient
  • Therapy Group
  • Exercise Group