Health & Well-Being

Aging with Parkinson’s Disease

Using dance to help those afflicted to reconnect with others.

by Leslie Eckford

LPE headshot 1 (2)

If you or someone you know has Parkinson’s Disease (PD), you know the negative impact it has on the physical, cognitive and mental health of the person. One of the most frustrating aspects is the awareness of that some of the symptoms come from unexpected places, and how they will progress can create a sense of dread for the person and their care partners. However, ongoing research offers hope. There are newer treatments and approaches that are gaining traction to help reduce the devastation of PD.

While all physicians recommend activity and exercise for a variety of illnesses, neurologists are enthusiastically steering their PD patients to dance. Specialists have learned from the community that dance is a therapeutic and empowering source for people with this disease.

Dance for PD was started in 2001 in Brooklyn when Olie Westheimer of the Brooklyn Parkinson Group approached the celebrated Mark Morris Dance Group to create a dance class for people with PD. This collaboration became a positive growth experience for both the professional dancers and the students and Dance for PD was born. Since then, the Dance for PD participants have been subjects in a number of studies which validate the benefits of the program. The program has grown and is available in many parts of the country and around the world.

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