Dancing, Tai Chi, and Other Parkinson's Therapies


Daniel M. Corcos, PhD, discusses the value of routine balance intervention activities for Parkinson's disease patients at the 21st International Congress of Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders.

The motor symptoms inflicted on a patient's body from Parkinson's diease (PD) are vast: slowed motion, rigidity, tremors and postural instability can come to affect any patient's quality of life.

The best treatment for such symptoms is balance intervention, Daniel M. Corcos, PhD, said at the 21st International Congress of Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders.

Balance intervention can include tai chi, yoga, and even dancing. Especially in patients averse to exercise, Corcos — professor of physical therapy and human movement sciences at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine — advised they pursue more physical activities, such as walking and dancing.

"Dancing is terrific, because if you have Parkinson's disease, the part of the brain which gets you to initiate movement on one's own is not working so well," Corcos said. "So, if one dances, one has auditory stimuli, one has visual stimuli, one has tactile stimuli."

Corcos also recommends PD patients practice weight training twice every week, as well as high-endurance exercise training 3 times every week. Coupled with balance intervention, this regimen the best treatment for PD patients undergoing physical therapy, Corcos said.

"The part of exercise which is not fully appreciated is that both resistance exercise and endurance exercise, there is very compelling evidence that it is good for the brain," Corcos said. "When one does endurance, there is evidence it either improves cognition, or stops the rate at which it declines."

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