Dancing Fall Risks Away with Tango
Dancing the tango may help people with Parkinson’s maintain balance and avoid falling, according to new research from Florida State University (FSU).
The iconic Argentine dance, said to originate in the bars and cafés along the Río de la Plata that separates Argentina from Uruguay, emphasizes walking, balance, posture, and weight shifting — all of which factor in fall prevention.
Over time, many people with Parkinson’s tend to stoop and walk slower, in a shuffling manner. Together with generally slower movement overall, this contributes to a greater risk of falling.
“As you learn how to dance Argentine tango, not only are you taught how to take a step by analyzing your body movements from head to toe, but you are provided external cues to do so,” says Shani Peter, the lead researcher of the study.
A “simple” forward step in tango, for example, shifts the dancer’s weight from back to front over the course of a hip lift, followed by a knee lift, and ending with a forward lean incorporating the chest.
The researchers used a pressure-sensitive walkway called “GAITRite” that estimates a person’s fall risk based on information from thousands of sensors.
The participants who underwent tango lessons showed a significant reduction in fall risk, compared with a control group of nine individuals with Parkinson’s who did not have lessons.
The researchers admit that their study is limited because of its small size.
Accompanied by an enjoyable social environment and music, this study hypothesizes that Argentine tango may allow people with Parkinson’s to dance their fall risk away.
Check out our handy factsheet on how to prevent falls when you have Parkinson’s.