Dance Intervention Reduces Motor Dysfunction and Improves Depression in Patients with PD
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Dance Intervention Reduces Motor Dysfunction and Improves Depression in Patients with PD

Revealed for the first time by a research team led by professor Seong-Beom Koh from the Department of Neurology at Korea University Guro Hospital
Need to develop exercise programs tailored for the special circumstances of limited physical exercise during COVID-19


A research team led by professor Seong-Beom Koh from the Department of Neurology at Korea University Guro Hospital, together with a professional dance center (instructor So-jeong Park) demonstrated for the first time in Korea that dance intervention improves symptoms, depression, and quality of life in patients with Parkinson’s disease. Dr. Koh’s research team and Jinhee Kim from Naeu Hospital in Incheon confirmed through gait analysis for the first time in the world that dancing is beneficial for patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease.


In addition to dementia and stroke, Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is one of the top three diseases that affect the elderly. This neurodegenerative disorder affects 1-1.5% of Koreans 60 years or older, and as the overall population ages, the prevalence of this disease is on the rise. Chinese politician Deng Xiaoping, actor Robin Williams, and Pope John Paul II are well-known figures with PD. Parkinson's signs and symptoms include slowed movement, tremors, and rigid muscles, especially in the limbs. Posture may become stooped, and the patients may also suffer from memory loss, depression, or sleep disorders. Parkinson's disease symptoms worsen as the condition progresses over time. Depression is also common and complications of the disease can cause pain, making consistent management necessary as it can significantly impact quality of life.


The study recruited subjects with PD who visited the movement disorder clinic at Korea University Guro Hospital in Seoul, South Korea in 2019. The mean age was 69 and the average duration of disease was 5.3 years. Dance intervention (using the Feldenkrais method) was offered to these patients over a period of 6 months. In addition to traditional medication, the dance intervention was performed once a week over a 6-month period. Multiple scales were used to evaluate motor and non-motor symptoms at 3, 6, and 12 months, which was 6 months following the completion of treatment.


The Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale, a motor scale, showed that symptoms improved without increasing medication dosage during the 6-month dance intervention. Six months following the dance intervention, the symptoms worsened. The Gate Assessment Test showed better outcomes in terms of improved gait velocity and step length. The Tinetti test was used to measure balance, which was maintained during the period of dance intervention. However, once the intervention was completed, the symptoms deteriorated. In addition, dancing had a positive impact on non-motor functions, which are closely related to quality of life in patients with PD. Results on the Non-Motor Symptoms Scale (NMSS), the Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS), and the Parkinson’s Disease Questionnaire-39 (PDQ-39) steadily improved during the intervention and started to deteriorate dramatically once the intervention stopped.



Professor Seong-Beom Koh said, “This is the world’s first study showing the effects of dancing on reducing major symptoms of stiffness and slow movement. It led to better motor scale scores, balance, and non-motor scores as well as improved depression and quality of life scale outcomes in patients with PD. Findings from the study indicate that dance intervention may be a complementary tool to manage various PD symptoms.“


He added, “This study indicates that exercise therapy done consistently can improve PD symptoms. The pandemic makes it difficult for patients to engage in physical activities. This means that PD patients may suffer from degrading motor and non-motor symptoms. Developing exercise programs and online training programs can be of great help to our patients especially during the pandemic.”


The paper was published in the November issue of Journal of Movement Disorders (JMD), an SCI-indexed journal.


https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34724780/

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