Stepping out against disease

The specialised Dance for Parkinson�s program, established in the US, runs locally every Friday at 11am until June 19.

Launched at the Maylands centre on Friday, the pilot program was designed to physically and mentally help people suffering from the progressive neurological condition.

Parkinson�s WA community liaison officer Randy Baker said the program integrated movement from contemporary, ballet, rap, folk and social dancing to engage participants� minds and bodies.

�It emphasises dancing for dancing�s sake while addressing Parkinson�s specific concerns such as balance, flexibility, co-ordination, gait, social isolation and depression,� she said.

�Participants are encouraged to approach movement like dancers rather than patients.

�Seated and standing moves are demonstrated and no previous knowledge or skills are assumed, yet even accomplished dancers can feel extended.�

Ms Baker said low-resistance movement was highly beneficial to people with Parkinson�s, improving their strength, co-ordination and general health.

�Subscribing to the �move it or lose it� ethos, Parkinson�s WA�s nurse specialists encourage exercise such as dancing as a way to maintain health and reduce the symptoms of Parkinson�s,� she said.

Once the pilot program has finished in June, the weekly dance classes are expected to continue with a National Disability Services Community Living and Participation Grant within the metropolitan area at a location yet to be announced.

Curtin University final year students from the School of Psychology and Speech Pathology will conduct a Dance for Parkinson’s WA project evaluation mid-way through the initial year of the program.

The DPWA evaluation will be considered in the development of additional classes in WA.