Tango and Health-Parkinsons Disease 08

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Tango for your Brain
2008-02-18
by Daniel G. Amen M.D.
The battle against Parkinson’s disease has come to the forefront of
public attention in recent years as high-profile sufferers, such as
Muhammad Ali and Michael J. Fox, have made their private struggles
known. We’ve treated many Parkinson’s disease patients through the
years and certainly there has been much progress made in early
identification and relieving the downward progression of symptoms.
While much attention has been given to the genetic root causes and
brain-centered treatment, there’s new information that indicates
physical therapy can be very helpful in decreasing some of the
debilitating effects of Parkinson’s. This is from a recent article by
Eric Nagourney…
“When the band strikes up a tango, people with Parkinson’s disease
may want to head for the dance floor. That is the lesson from a new
study reporting that when Parkinson’s patients took tango classes,
their balance improved. Problems with walking and balance are common
among people with the disease, and often lead to falls. Among the
difficulties, the researchers said, are shuffling and trouble turning
while walking. Patients may experience a sudden “freezing” that can
either slow them down or stop them entirely. They also have trouble
walking while performing another activity at the same time.
The study appears in the December issue of The Journal of Neurologic
Physical Therapy. The lead author is Madeleine E. Hackney of the
Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. The
researchers described what happened when 19 Parkinson’s patients were
given either 20 tango classes or 20 exercise classes. The exercise
class consisted of one hour of movement, much of it in chairs or
using chairs for support. The tango class was more vigorous, and
focused on stretching, balance, footwork and timing. Both groups
demonstrated general improvement, but only the tango students
appeared to do better when it came to balance. The improvement was
fairly limited, and the researchers said more study was needed.”
Of course if you drink when you tango it ruins the benefit.
To your brain health,
Daniel
Daniel Amen, M.D.
CEO, Amen Clinics, Inc.
Distinguished Fellow, American Psychiatric Association