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Author's School

Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

Author's Department/Program

Movement Science


Gammon M. Earhart, David Marchant, Michael Mueller, Joel S. Perlmutter, Linda Van Dillen


English (en)

Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2009

Degree Type

Restricted Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Individuals with Parkinson disease (PD) may experience postural instability, bradykinesia, gait impairment, turning difficulty and freezing. These problems frequently lead to falls, fear of falling, and withdrawal from society (Bloem et al., 2001a, 2001 b). In a prospective study, 70% of patients fell within a one year period, and 50 % of them fell again the following year (Bloem et al., 2004). Individuals with PD are 3.2 times more likely to sustain a hip fracture than people of similar age without PD (Melton et al., 2006). The cost of care for hip fractures in PD is approximately $192 million per year in the United States alone (Bacon, 1996; Melton et al., 2006). Given the great personal and financial costs of PD-associated gait and balance deficits, strategies are clearly needed to address these impairments. As pharmacological methods remain only partially effective in treating the symptoms of those with PD, additional, non-pharmacological approaches that address balance and gait difficulties are necessary (Gage & Storey, 2004). Gait and balance problems are commonly approached using traditional exercise programs, but evidence suggests that dance may more effectively target balance and complex gait tasks in frail elderly individuals (Jacobson et al., 2005). The effects of the partner dance, Argentine tango, on balance and gait in PD had yet to be investigated. Through clinical and kinematic measures in individuals with PD we determined: (1) whether tango improves functional mobility, (2) how tango compares to traditional exercise, other forms of dance, or no intervention for improving functional mobility, (3) whether high dosage tango dance programs of short duration are feasible and as effective as moderate dosage tango programs of longer duration, and (4) if partnered dancing confers benefits not obtained by non-partnered dancing. The goal of this work was to establish how dance, particularly partnered dance, influences functional mobility, balance and gait in people with PD. We ultimately hope to develop optimized therapeutic dance interventions to address balance and gait difficulties and quality of life issues associated with PD.


Permanent URL: Print version available in library catalog at Call #: LD5791.8.PhD2009 H22. Binding title: Tango for Parkinson disease.

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