For some time I have been providing movement therapy groups to the local branch of Parkinson’s UK. The emphasis is on participation, movements are adapted for people with poor mobility and balance and may be accessed seated. The sessions provide a cognitive component too, medicines can’t always do as much as we would like, in the group people practice multitasking and move in a way that is fun and engaging. The combination of physical activity, social interaction and mental stimulation can bring improvements in everyday activities and outlook on life. People with Parkinson’s can function better when their movements are activated by cues from music and rhythm. Participation can help to avoid freezing episodes and develop movement strategies, it improves endurance and flexibility and distracts from fatigue. Currently, sessions are provided as part of the Movement In Mind programme.
I deeply value my longstanding connection with Cheshire Dance as a freelance dance artist. Under their banner I have worked for many years with adults who have profound and multiple learning disabilities and people with dementia. I was one of their dance artists delivering the Dance To Health project, aimed at adults in later life to improve strength, balance, co-ordination and reduce the likelihood of falls. Sessions were based on proven physiotherapy methods but ‘hidden’ in the dance moves so the focus was on expression and enjoyment rather than the underlying problem. Research shows this is an effective way to increase motivation and has the additional benefit of being mentally uplifting.