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Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a systemic condition that presents not only motor but also nonmotor symptoms, as a result of dopamine deficiency in the basal ganglia. Rehabilitation typically focuses on motor deficits, however, despite the fact that nonmotor symptoms have a significant impact on quality of life. The researchers of this study investigated the effectiveness of dance on motor functions, cognitive functions, and mental symptoms of individuals with PD. They chose dance as their intervention because it has been shown to activate the basal ganglia as well as improve mood. In addition to motor function and mood, the researchers also assessed the mental symptoms of motivation, depression, and apathy, which are commonly affected by PD.

Forty-six participants were randomized into one of three groups: dance, PD exercise, and control. The dance group used movements that typically are difficult for PD patients, such as simplifying complex movements, using body awareness, and following visual and auditory cues. The PD exercise group participated in physical therapy and exercises. Both the dance and the PD exercise groups met once per week for 12 weeks. The control group participants received no intervention and continued with their normal life activities.


A product of the American Occupational Therapy Association's Evidence-based Literature Review Project.


Copyright © 2018 American Occupational Therapy Association. All Rights Reserved. Reproduced here with permission.

Publisher's Statement

Originally published as Gamueda, M.A., Lee, C., Nguyen, S., Pala, A., & Li, K. (2018). Critically Appraised Paper for “Effects of dance on motor functions, cognitive functions, and mental symptoms of Parkinson’s disease: A quasi-randomized pilot trial” Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 23(2), 210-219. Bethesda, MD: American Occupational Therapy Association, Evidence-Based Practice Project.