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Dancing the Tango Could Help Cancer Patients Regain Balance

Jul 06, 2016 07:15 AM EDT
Researchers found that dancing the tango may help cancer patients regain some balance after cancer treatment.
(Photo : fercho112 / Pixabay)

Some cancer treatments may leave patients with balance problems, but researchers have found that teaching them to dance tango may help improve their balance.

According to the researchers, up to 70 percent of patients who undergo chemotherapy experience peripheral neuropathy as a side effect. This condition may cause loss of sensation in the hands, fingers, feet and toes. One-third of patients still struggle with this condition even six months after the treatment.

The researchers said that long-term neuropathy in the feet and toes can be extremely problematic as it may affect the person's balance and gait, putting them at risk of tripping and falling when engaging in daily activities.

"That's a big deal because many more people are surviving cancer. Dealing with the issues that impact a person's quality of life after cancer is extremely important," Lise Worthen-Chaudhari, faculty member of Ohio State University's Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and co-author of the study, said in a press release.

The Ohio State University-based research team also found that Argentine Tango can significantly help patients improve their balance and reduce their fall risks.

"As a dancer, I study the art of movement and as a biomechanist and rehabilitation scientist I study the math and the science of movement. We thought that it would be a powerful combination to put all those together to try to help cancer survivors," Worthen-Chaudhari said.

In the study, the research team designed a dance intervention course comprised of 20 sessions of adapted Argentine Tango, where patients participated for one hour twice a week for 10 weeks.

The researchers measured the patients' standing posture while swaying using a computer-aided force platform. Patients were also asked about their satisfaction after the activity.

After the 10-week dance classes, researchers found that patients were able to improve their balance by 57 percent. The patients also showed changes in their core strengths, which often becomes depleted due to muscle loss caused by cancer.

Moreover, the patients reported enjoying the dance therapy.

Mimi Lamantia, pre-med student of the Ohio State University who taught the patients the Argentine tango, said that the dance had remarkably enhanced the quality of movement of the patients.

"Teaching them to tango not only helped them improve physically, but it had a social, creative and expressive components to it as well," Lamantia said in a report by NewsMax.

"I was able to see the improvement in these individuals, not only in how they moved, but their confidence and how they walked into class. That was really beautiful to see."

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