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Dance Class at Texas Health Dallas Benefits Movement Disorders Patients
05/23/2013

Jim Rosenbloom warms up during dance class.
Jim Rosenbloom warms up during dance class.
Click photo to download hi-res image

DALLAS — Jim Rosenbloom’s battle with Parkinson’s disease had taken a toll on his shoulder, affecting his range of motion and leaving him with the possibility of rotator cuff surgery.

As an alternative to the procedure, his physician suggested he try daily exercise. His search for just the right program led him to a class specializing in movement disorders such as Parkinson’s at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas. Now all he needed was a new pair of dance shoes.

“I tried physical therapy and a few other exercise programs, but those didn’t really work for me. So a friend suggested that I sign-up for this dance class,” the Dallas native said. “I never imagined exercise could be so much fun and help my condition.”

Dance instructor Misty Owens introduced the Dance for Movement Disorders class to Texas Health Dallas two years ago. She is a founding teacher of the Dance for PD program at the Mark Morris Dance Group in Brooklyn, New York.

“When I moved back to Dallas in 2010, I brought the program with me but modified it for a broader group with movement disorders,” Owens said. “The choreography is designed to increase their flexibility and fluidity in body movements.”

Participants begin the class seated and work on combinations of dance movements from modern, tap, ballet and jazz techniques. For a more unique movement experience Owens will throw in other forms of dance such as flamenco, body percussions and vocalizations.

The music alone has such a profound effect on some class members that they don’t even think about the dance movements but are captivated by a particular song.

“I feel 19 again,” Doris Soznowski said with a smile after hearing a song by The Flamingos.

From their chairs, the class progresses to the ballet barre to work on ballet and tap dance combinations. Then Owens leads the group across the floor in different rhythmic combinations and finishes with different styles of choreography such as tap dance, musical theater or world dance styles such as the polka, cha-cha or a Turkish folk dance.

Each movement is choreographed to increase flexibility and fluidity of the body.
Each movement is choreographed to increase flexibility and fluidity of the body.
Click photo to download hi-res image

“I always liked to dance so this doesn’t feel like work to me,” Rosenbloom said. “After three months in the class I went back to my surgeon, and he couldn’t believe the progress I’d made. He decided there was no need for surgery.”

Not only had Rosenbloom gained full use of his shoulder again, he noticed an improvement in his flexibility and, most notably, his handwriting.

“While these particular results may not happen for everyone, dancing provides a way to practice multi-tasking, which can be difficult for these patients,” said Dr. Aanchal Taneja, movement disorder specialist on the medical staff at Texas Health Dallas. “Listening to the music and performing each dance step reinforces their strategies for movement.”

Peggy Martin also found that the dance class helped in her day-to-day activities. Diagnosed with Parkinson’s four years ago, she now no longer requires one of her medications used for treatment and finds that she has more energy.

“My doctor told me that whatever I’ve been doing, to keep doing it,” Martin said. “Sometimes I’ll think, ‘I’m too tired to go to class.’ But once I’m here Misty makes the class so enjoyable that I leave here energized enough to get out and go grocery shopping.”

“These participants came together as strangers and now provide a sense of community for each other through shared experiences,” said Rachelle DuBose Caruthers, coordinator of the movement disorders education and resource center at Texas Health Dallas. “You’ll find them having lunch together, encouraging each other or showing concern if someone misses a class.”

Texas Health Dallas partners with the Dallas Area Parkinsonism Society (DAPS) to provide this free community resource. For more information about the Dance for Movement Disorders class, call 214-345-4224 or email dallasmovementdisorders@texashealth.org.

About Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas
Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas is an 898-bed acute care hospital and recognized clinical program leader, having provided compassionate care to the residents of Dallas and surrounding communities since 1966. U.S. News and World Report has ranked Texas Health Dallas among the nation’s best hospitals in digestive disorders, orthopedics, and neurology and neurosurgery. An affiliate of the faith-based, nonprofit Texas Health Resources system, Texas Health Dallas has approximately 4,000 employees and an active medical staff of more than 1,000 physicians. For more information, call 1-877-THR-WELL, or visit TexasHealth.org/Dallas.

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