Friday, January 11, 2008

Tango beats exercise for Parkinsonians

tango class
Any type of physical activity may prevent frailty but tango seems to be best when it comes to balance and fall prevention. These issues are particularly important in frail elderly, and they are most pronounced in people suffering from Parkinson's disease. For this reason, a group of Parkinsonians have been chosen for a preliminary experiment comparing tango dancing with conventional exercise.

Nineteen patients have been assessed as to symptoms of Parkinson's disease and performance in various tests. Then, assigned by random, they visited either twenty tango lessons or twenty exercise lessons. After the program, the same tests have been performed. It came out that Parkinson's symptoms improved significantly after both interventions. But only the tango dancers improved in the Berg Balance Scale, a test where tasks such as standing on one leg, doing balance tasks with eyes closed, and the like have to be performed. The Berg Balance Scale is very important in the elderly because falls are a main source of disability in old age.

Due to the small number of participants, this test does not allow definite conclusions, and the usefulness of tango dancing versus exercise should be confirmed with greater samples. But one thing can be taken for granted: Tango is more fun!

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