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Effectiveness of a dance-physiotherapy combined intervention in Parkinson’s disease: a randomized controlled pilot trial



Physical therapies have been recommended as crucial components in Parkinson’s disease (PD) rehabilitation.


The study aims to examine the effectiveness of a new dance-physiotherapy combined intervention, called DArT method, in mild PD patients.


A prospective, randomized, single-blind, controlled pilot trial was conducted on 38 mild PD patients under dopaminergic therapy. The intervention consisted in an add-on protocol: the control group received 1 h of conventional physiotherapy followed by 1 h of conventional physiotherapy each day, 3 times a week, for 5 weeks. The experimental group received 1 h of conventional physiotherapy followed by 1 h of dance class each day, 3 times a week, for 5 weeks. The week before and after the training period, patients were assessed for motor, cognitive, emotional, and sensory components of PD, with MDS-UPDRS-III as primary outcome measure.


DArT method was associated with a 2.72-point reduction in the post-treatment MDS-UPDRS-III total score compared to control group (95% CI − 5.28, − 0.16, p = 0.038, d = 0.71), and with a 2.16-point reduction in the post-treatment MDS-UPDRS-III upper body subscore (95% CI − 3.56, − 0.76, p = 0.003, d = 1.02). Conversely, conventional physiotherapy program was associated with a 2.95-point reduction in the post-treatment trait anxiety compared to the experimental group (95% CI 0.19, 5.71, p = 0.037, d = 0.70). Withdrawal and fall rates were equal to 0% in both groups.


DArT method showed to be safe, well accepted, and more effective than an intensive program of conventional physiotherapy in improving motor impairment in mild PD.

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Fig. 1

Data Availability

The data that support the findings of this study are available on request from the corresponding author (Frisaldi Elisa).

Code availability (software application or custom code)

Not applicable.


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We would like to acknowledge the Direction, health workers, and staff of the San Camillo Hospital (Turin, Italy) for the expertise, administrative and technical supports, gyms, and equipment made available for the whole study period; all patients for their time, enthusiasm, and commitment to this research; Jan Vollert, from the Imperial College of London, for his assistance in statistical analysis; and Vanessa Maher, Honorary Professor in Cultural Anthropology at the University of Verona and native-English speaker, for valuable editing the description of DArT method.


This study was supported by grants from Innovative Clinical Trainings, Trials & Healthcare Worldwide Initiative (Italy/Switzerland, grant number KCL-001) to Fabrizio Benedetti; the Ministry of Education, University and Research (MIUR) under the program “Dipartimenti di Eccellenza ex L. 232/2016” to the Department of Surgical Sciences of the University of Turin; and the Opera San Camillo Foundation, Milan, Italy.

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Authors and Affiliations



Design: Benedetti, Frisaldi, Lopiano, Zibetti, Massazza, Milano, Bottino, Trucco. Execution and data collection: Frisaldi (dance classes), Bottino (recruitments, reading and signing of the informed consent, reference doctor for the enrolled patients), De Ceglia (second hours of physiotherapy classes), Esposito (first hours of physiotherapy classes), Fabbri (recruitment and first assessor), Zibetti (recruitment and second assessor), Barbiani (first assessor), Camerone (first assessor), Costa (first assessor), Destefanis (recruitment). Statistical analysis: Frisaldi. Manuscript: Frisaldi (first draft); Frisaldi, Trucco, De Ceglia (supplementary material); all co-authors (review and critique).

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Elisa Frisaldi.

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Ethics approval

The study was approved by the local Ethics Committee (CS2/472) and conducted in agreement with the Declaration of Helsinki Ethical Principles.

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All subjects provided written informed consent.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Frisaldi, E., Bottino, P., Fabbri, M. et al. Effectiveness of a dance-physiotherapy combined intervention in Parkinson’s disease: a randomized controlled pilot trial. Neurol Sci 42, 5045–5053 (2021).

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  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Rehabilitation
  • Physiotherapy
  • Dance
  • Motor impairment
  • Mind-body