An approach to the many health benefits

Une approche aux nombreux bienfaits sur la santé

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According to the research, in the case of Parkinson’s, the tango would provide more benefits than a less dance choreographed.

The potential for dance to improve the health and well-being has long been under-estimated. It is finally starting to be recognized and studied by scientists, as well as to be exploited for a variety of health problems, physical or psychological.

“Magnetic resonance imaging revealed the brain’s plasticity. This discovery has led to the recognition of the potential that dance can have on the brain [create new connection]. It is for this reason that researchers have started to pay attention to the interventions by the dance. It is known that the movement is very powerful. However, the dance is not limited to the movement, it also encompasses the pace and aspects of social and emotional. All these dimensions come into play and work in synergy, ” recalls Sylvie Fortin, a professor in the Department of dance of the UQAM and a member of the research Chair at UQAM for the development of innovative practices in art, culture and well-being.

In Montreal, sessions of dance therapy are offered to children with cerebral palsy or neuromuscular disorders, degenerative diseases, such as Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease which is characterized by muscle weakness and a loss of sensitivity at the ends of the members.

A phd student from Ms. Fortin has experienced in dance therapy at the Hôpital de réadaptation Villa Medica with people who have been victims of a cerebral vascular accident (STROKE). “These interventions are interdisciplinary with physiotherapists and occupational therapists that specify the types of movements needed by the patients during their rehabilitation “, said Ms. Fortin.

Young people suffering from eating disorders such as anorexia are involved in a project to experience the benefits of dance therapy at the CHU Sainte-Justine.

Similar projects are also conducted with women who have experienced homelessness, and substance abuse problems or mental health issues, as well as in the prison environment.

For the moment, the benefits of dance therapy are mainly documented in the form of ” testimonials qualitative “. But one begins to obtain evidence, in particular for Parkinson’s disease. “The interventions in dance would improve spatial orientation, balance, mood — reducing aggression — and decrease the fatigue of the patients. And when the disease is advanced, they would also have beneficial effects on cognitive functions. The research findings are to this point advanced on this disease that it is to ask whether a form of dance more choreographed, like the tango, would provide more benefits that a more improvised, because the brain works differently according to the form of dance privileged, ” said Ms. Fortin before specifying that, in most cases, the dance-therapy is a complement to traditional therapies.

How the intervention dance gives it the benefits ? “Is this because of the physical activity that it implies ? Is that because physical activity is combined with the music, or because it involves a social interaction, because you dance with people and we touch ? Is it because it stimulates the imagination ? All of this is still a black box, “says Ms. Fortin, emphasizing that” the granting agencies are beginning to recognize the value of dance therapy and the financing of research on this subject.”

Sylvie Fortin and six other university of Montreal have just received an important grant from the Fonds de recherche du Québec (FRQ) for an interdisciplinary research program, called AUDACITY, on dance and health. This grant will, among others, to carry out a project at the Sainte-Justine hospital with young people suffering from eating disorders, which will consist of measuring brain activity (electroencephalography, EEG), levels of cortisol (the stress hormone), heart rate, and levels of sweating in these young people. These measures will then be cross-checked with the results of a questionnaire of self-assessment of their status after the dance sessions.

What’s more, the UQAM and Concordia university and McGill university dream of establishing a training program in dance therapy or dance fit. One thing is for certain, this discipline was emerging was the wind in the sails to Montreal.

Therapy or dance appropriate for you?

In practice, the two are alike. Only the first goals are different. In dance-therapy, they are therapeutic. Dance fit, they are primarily recreational and artistic, but that does not mean that they will also have therapeutic benefits.