Parkinson's sufferers give dance a whirl.
Parkinson's sufferers give dance a whirl. Photo Contributed

Queensland Ballet workshop for Toowoomba

YOUR STORY: Joe Chalmers, who has suffered from Parkinson's Disease for the past seven years, has never been a dance fan.

His wife Carol now smiles at the thought that, after 45 years of marriage, it is Parkinson's that might force him onto the dance floor in the hope of improving his balance and movement.

The couple plan to attend a workshop run by the Queensland Ballet for the Toowoomba Parkinson's Support Group in August.

The Queensland Ballet's Dance for Parkinson's program is a popular activity in Brisbane and other centres and the local support group hopes that this workshop might encourage the development of regular classes in Toowoomba.

Research suggests dance can improve cognitive performance and reaction times, making it a useful treatment for a number of conditions, including arthritis, dementia, depression and Parkinson's Disease.

Instructor David Leventhal from the USA commented recently that Parkinson's patients have problems with the very things dancers spend their lives studying.

He said: "It makes sense that those who know the most about balance, flexibility, coordination and carrying out a sequence of continuing movements should help those who need those skills the most."

"The big movements of dance also help sufferers, whose movements tend to get smaller and more constrained, by getting them to move more freely and rhythmically."

In 2013, Queensland Ballet launched a pilot program offering specialised dance classes which were based on the internationally recognised course for people with Parkinson's Disease.

As part of the pilot program, Queensland Ballet partnered with the Queensland University of Technology and the University of Queensland to conduct initial research into the effects of these dance classes.

This was the first study of its kind in Australia with the results concluding that Dance for Parkinson's classes positively affected people living with Parkinson's in multiple ways including providing valuable physical, emotional, social and cognitive benefits.

All abilities are catered for in the program. Anyone affected by Parkinson's, their carers, partners and friends are welcome to participate in this initial workshop.

Any others who are interested in learning more about the classes from a participation or facilitation perspective are also invited to attend.

'It is unlikely you will see me in a tutu or leotards on Dance with the Stars,' laughs Joe, 'but if dance helps me to stay active and slows the effects of this debilitating disease then I'll be giving it a go!'

The workshop is on Thursday, August 4 at 10am at St Thomas More's Church Hall in Ramsay Street in Southtown, Toowoomba.

Please contact Jan Barrett on 4635 4844 for further information.


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