Dance for Parkinson’s

A study into how ballet classes can improve the social wellbeing of patients living with Parkinson’s keeps researchers on their toes. 

balletThe Scaling-up Health-Arts Programmes: Implementation and Effectiveness Research study (SHAPER) is the world’s largest ever study into the impact and scalability of arts on physical and mental health. Interventions proven to improve patient health, such as singing groups for postnatal depression and movement and music sessions for stroke patients, will be trialled among larger groups of people within NHS hospitals and health centres.

One of the arts interventions in the study is Dance for Parkinson’s, which looks at the impact regular ballet classes has on people living with Parkinson’s.

As part of this world-first research, patients will participate in weekly ballet classes for 12 weeks, provided by the English National Ballet (ENB). These classes incorporate live music, dance, rhythm and voice activities with specialist ENB dance artists and musicians. Dance for Parkinson’s has been shown to reduce social isolation, benefit emotional and social wellbeing and improve stability, fluidity of movement and posture to support everyday life.

Prof Ray Chaudhuri, leads on movement disorders and neurology at King’s College London and is a neurology consultant at King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. He explores developing and using clinical tools, such as outcome measures, to improve neurological recovery, a key area of focus for King’s Health Partners Neurosciences.

Commenting on the study, he said:

It’s really important we both understand how Dance for Parkinson’s benefits patients, but also, if dance is proven beneficial for patients, how we go about implementing our findings from the study.

To assess the short and longer-term impact of Dance for Parkinson’s, a range of measures will be collected before the ballet lessons begin, at the end of the 12-week programme, and then at six months following the end of the course.

Patients will be asked to complete a range of questionnaires to measure important factors such as, mobility, balance, cognition, anxiety, depression, sleep and pain, along with quality of life measures. Alongside this, data from wearable sensors will also be collected, providing researchers with objective measures of general mobility, walking speed and balance.

The study is also aimed at assessing whether the stage of Parkinson’s makes a difference to the degree of benefit experienced by patients at Dance for Parkinson’s. Three cohorts of patients will be chosen: early onset, moderate and advanced Parkinson’s. A control group, with the three cohorts, will also be monitored in the same way, to assess the impact in a comparative group.

Prof Ray Chaudhuri explained that as well as looking at the impact of Dance for Parkinson’s, uniquely, the SHAPER programme will be specifically dedicated to examining how these types of art interventions can be implemented within the NHS. This will be led by Prof Nick Sevdalis and Dr Ioannis Bakolis from the Centre for Implementation Science at King’s College London. They will explore implementation issues from the perspective of patients, carers and clinical staff.

Prof Ray Chaudhuri said:

I really do hope the research demonstrates benefits to patients, so that Dance for Parkinson’s can be recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and adopted nationally as an important part of therapy for people with Parkinson’s.
There is currently no cure for Parkinson’s and so therapies which can help to alleviate symptoms are very welcomed by patients.

To keep in rhythm with the latest studies from King’s Health Partners Neurosciences researchers, read about the Institute’s vision and collective strengths.