Assessing Gait and Cognitive Outcomes in Individuals with Parkinson’s Disease After a Six-Year Dance Intervention
Co-Authors:Harsimran Dogra, Joseph FX DeSouza, Jenna Smith-Turchyn, Emily D’Alessandro, Nicole Anderson and Karolina Bearss
Virtual or In-person:In-person
Introduction. Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disorder primarily characterized by distinctive motor symptoms, such as tremors, bradykinesia and rigidity. Gait disturbances are also common in the later stages of this disease which may contribute to greater fall risk. Although there is a greater emphasis on the motor manifestations of PD, the presence of mild cognitive impairment during the early stages may pose a major risk factor for developing dementia later on as well.
Research shows that neuroprotective effects of high intensity exercise, such as dance, may help to improve motor and non-motor symptoms among individuals with PD. As gait disturbances and impaired cognition are primarily exhibited in the later stages of the disease, examining their relationship would provide better insight on the neuroprotective effects of dance therapy for PD.
Methods and Measures. Participants with PD (PwPD; n=44; mean age = 69.43) and controls (n=18; mean age = 61) attended a minimum of one dance class, lasting 1.25 hours, between 2014 to 2019 at Canada’s National Ballet School (see Bearss & DeSouza, 2017 for dance intervention procedure).
MMSE and MDS-UPDRS were used to collect cognitive and motor data from all participants at each session attended. An EEG was performed pre- and post-dance intervention as well.
Proposed Results. We expect to see preserved or improved cognitive outcomes in PwPD who underwent the six-year dance intervention. By comparing the MDS-UPDRS III scoring to the MMSE scores collected, we expect to see a positive correlation between gait and cognition.