The Octaband Used in Dance Classes for People with Parkinson's Disease
Perhaps you’ve been hearing about people with Parkinson’s Disease dancing. It is pretty regularly making the news. I recently discovered this beautiful 4 minute documentary from Stone Soup Films about the Parkinson’s Foundation of the National Capital Area and their dance class led by Serene Bowers Webber. And at 1:59 you can see them using the Octaband. While they are using the Octaband, one gentleman says about his wife, “After she does exercise, she’s mentally better. She is focused and motivated to do other things.” She adds, “When I dance, I forget everything and I just get into it.”
As part of groups geared to people with neurological movement disorders including Parkinson’s Disease, the Octaband® has proven to be a great success because it motivates participation. Dance/movement therapist Mimi Berger wrote, “I love the Octaband… We use both the large and small size for my Movement Disorders class (Parkinsons, MS, etc). One activity they love… we put a small bean bag ball in the center and bounce (to music) and count how many times we can do it… have gotten up to 400!” Music therapist Barbara Reuer in California shared, “This is … something that we have tried that we have found has been fun for the Parkinson’s group. We place 10 or so egg shakers in the center of the circle. Then we lift up the octaband – parachute style – to throw the eggs up and then try to catch as many eggs as we can. This is actually quite challenging because each person and how they move or pull on each part of the band affects if the eggs are caught or not. It involves a lot of thinking and moving just right for each person to catch the eggs. The Parkinson’s group has had a lot of fun with it!”
Dance/movement therapists have long danced with people with Parkinson’s Disease. The American Dance Therapy Association offers: “The use of movement as the primary means of communication benefits persons with Parkinson’s disease doubly, as “dancing” – an expressive and rhythmic sequencing of motions to music – seems to organize movements, calm dystonia and improve gait and balance” in its information sheet.
As far back as 1989, Dance/movement therapy with groups of outpatients with Parkinson’s disease” in the peer-reviewed American Journal of Dance Therapy.
Dance for PD®, an on-going collaboration between the Mark Morris Dance Group and the Brooklyn Parkinson Group, offers dance classes for people with Parkinson’s disease at the Mark Morris Dance Center and trains people around the world under the capable leadership of Program Director David Leventhal. This video shows a number of people speaking about the benefits of their program.
This 2009 article in the European Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine, “Dance as therapy for individuals with Parkinson Disease” suggests, “Dance appears to meet many, if not all, of the recommended components for exercise programs designed for individuals with PD. The benefits of dance include improved balance and gait function as well as improved quality of life.”
Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences have published a number of articles more generally about music, rhythm and dance and the brain.