Dance for Parkinson’s

So, this is a not an entirely new phenomenon, but it is new to me.

Every Friday I have clinic at a community clinic in Berkeley, California and last week we were visited by a local organzation, PD Active, a group that does advocacy and programs for people with Parkinson’s disease (PD).  If you don’t know much about it, PD is a brain disorder that causes difficulty with movement and usually affects older people (Michael J. Fox is unusual in that he developed PD very young).  It is characterized by slow movements that get worse–  hand and arm tremors, trouble buttoning a blouse, walking very slowly, talking slowly and losing the ability to make facial expressions.  As the disease progresses, people can suffer from frequent falling and ultimately dementia.

Needless to say, thinking of people with PD dancing is an incredible thought as they are often thought of as stiff and slow, even unbalanced.  Our visitor explained the incredible things PD Active does for people in the area– yoga classes, dance classes, support groups and advocacy events.  I am sure I will be recommending it to some of my patients with PD.  However, one thing he mentioned really caught my attention.  When he started to do Dance for Parkinson’s (a registered trademark), which was originally developed in Brooklyn at the Mark Morris Dance Group, he felt “graceful”.

Looking at their website and videos, I was incredibly moved.  Not only does it seem to get people to use their bodies in ways they did not think they could, it improves their mobility and safety.  Music and dance open up their brains and ability to move more.  See if you can bring it to your city!


PD Active in Berkeley, CA:

Picture from Dance for PD (R) website:


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About agannac

Agannac is an internal medicine trained physician, currently doing further training in geriatric medicine. She enjoys working with vulnerable elderly in the health care setting and thinking about ways to improve health care for the most socially and medically complex. She hopes to make innovations from around the world relevant in the US.

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