Neurological patients learn to tango in Halifax
Dancers have Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease
A group of seniors in Halifax with Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease have been trying an unusual treatment for their neurological disorders: they're learning to tango.
The group of dementia and stroke patients have been taking tango lessons this fall through a pilot project called Tea and Tango.
"It's going very well, people are showing a decrease in symptoms," Martina Sommer, the tango teacher, told CBC's Information Morning. “They even forgot that they have motor impairments and the social aspect is really strong.”
Sommer and her husband teamed up with physiotherapy student Jesse Robson, founder of the senior's charity Happily Ever Active, to get the seniors moving.
"Recently there's a lot discovered in the influence of music and movements in regard to our health, not only brain health but also mental health, emotional health and just happiness in life," Sommer said.
"It is important I think, that people have a chance to dance … dancing is one of the most important aspects of human life we have just forgotten about it."
She said the tango is a "gentle" dance that is close to walking.
"I think within a beginner class of any sort everyone sort of looks unsteady on their feet," said Robson. "It's quite funny looking around in the class, it's difficult to distinguish the volunteers from the participants because everyone looks a little like Bambi."
Participant Cecil Murphy said his form of multiple sclerosis has thrown off his balance, but he's slowly getting the dance moves down.
"It is very enjoyable," he said. "I'm getting to the the point where I can almost do it without looking at my feet."
The pilot for Tea and Tango wraps up in two weeks, but the organizers are looking for funding to turn it into an ongoing program.