In a climate where governments, health organisations and health insurers are looking for answers to global epidemics such as Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s, other related health problems and ageing populations, the Dance Health Alliance™ upholds that dance in all its multi-facets has a significant role to play in the health and wellness of individuals, communities and the general public. Dance is perfectly positioned to support the public health sector, providing proactive, cost-effective solutions to global wellness challenges.
Dance is an inclusive, social activity that functions holistically: on a physical, mental and emotional level to engage individuals of all ages in life-giving activity, improving general levels of health, immune function, brain health, neuroplasticity, confidence and social integration.
The health related benefits of participation in physical activity are well documented. Recent research now positions dance ahead of other physical activity in terms of its impact. Documented global benefits range from enhancing brain-body reaction time, coordination, fall prevention, agility, balance to influencing endocrine-psychological states such as confidence and risk-taking. It also has a calming effect on the immune system, the root of many of today’s chronic health challenges, and has transformative power to promote new brain synapse connections and cognitive reserve (resistance to future damage to the brain) at any age, slowing the rate of brain deterioration, the next massive epidemic that Governments and Health sectors are preparing to address.
Falls and Balance
Increased susceptibility to falling is one of the most serious problems associated with ageing. Approximately one third of people aged 65 years and over living in the community fall at least once a year, with up to one fifth of these people suffering multiple falls.
Dance Health Alliance™ focuses on focus, leg sensation, lower limb strength, reaction time and postural stability to reduce risk factors. We also consider footwear-surface interactions, confusion and dementia, stimulation through music, supportive hospital settings, overcoming fear and risk-taking behaviour.
Multiple factors play a role in falls and related injuries, however poor balance is the cause of the majority of falls in older adults. Human balance depends on the interaction of our senses of sight, touch, etc. and our ability to control the movement of our bodies. These abilities decline significantly as we age, which can lead to falls, even when there are no identifiable neurological or musculoskeletal problems.
Falls are the leading cause of injury-related death and hospitalisation in people aged 65 years and over. At least 40% of people who have been hospitalised because of a fall require subsequent care in a nursing home. A further 10% need ongoing assistance at home from community services.
The rate of falling in older people living in nursing homes is even higher, with various studies reporting fall rates of between 40% and 56% in elderly residents each year.
Multiple Sclerosis is a disease of the central nervous system. It interferes with nerve impulses within the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. Multiple sclerosis is one of the most common diseases of the central nervous system with over 23,000 people living with the disease in Australia and more than two million diagnosed worldwide. There is currently no known cure for the disease, however there are several treatment options available to help manage symptoms, including Dance Health Alliance™ programs.
Symptoms & diagnosis
A multiple sclerosis diagnosis can be extremely difficult to come to grips with. All of a sudden there is a lot of new information to absorb, questions to ask and key decisions to make. Being informed can help.
Multiple sclerosis symptoms are varied and unpredictable, depending on which part of the central nervous system is affected and to what degree. The most common symptoms are fatigue, pain, bladder and bowel issues, spasticity, problems with vision, cognitive fog and changes in emotion. However, any neurological symptom may be caused by multiple sclerosis.
Some symptoms are immediately obvious. Others, such as fatigue, numbness and cognitive fog, can be invisible. These can be hard to describe to others, which makes it hard for family and carers to understand.
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive, degenerative brain disease that causes trembling, stiffness, slowness of movement and a loss of fine motor control. The disease destroys neurons in an area of the brain called the substantia nigra. Without these dopamine-producing cells, the brain’s ability to control movement is progressively reduced.
Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are caused by a gradual deterioration and death of brain cells in the substantia nigra. However, people with Parkinson’s can lose up to 70% of susceptible brain cells and go on for many years before symptoms become noticeable. While symptoms vary from person to person, the most well-known symptom is a tremor. People with Parkinson’s disease may also experience slowness of movement, stiffness, a loss of automatic movements such as blinking and smiling, changes in speech and, in the later stages of the disease, dementia.
While no one currently knows what causes brain cells to die in Parkinson’s disease, we do know that some factors increase your risk of developing this disorder. These factors include older age, living in a rural environment, being a smoker and exposure to some herbicides and pesticides. Although in rare cases Parkinson’s disease can be inherited, the vast majority of cases of Parkinson’s disease are not. It is currently thought that Parkinson’s disease results from a complex interaction between many factors, some of which are inherited and some of which are environmental.
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, degenerative brain disease and the most common form of dementia, a group of brain disorders that affect a person’s memory, thinking and ability to interact socially. Alzheimer’s disease affects about 1 in 15 people over 65 years, and almost 1 in 4 people over 85 years.
At present, we don’t know what causes Alzheimer’s disease. We do know that people with this illness have abnormal material that builds up in their brain. These protein ‘tangles’ and ‘plaques’ disrupt communication between brain cells and lead to eventual cell death and brain shrinkage. There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease.
While each person experiences a slightly different set of symptoms, the first noticeable symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease in most people is typically memory loss and difficulty in finding words in both speech and writing. Because such lapses are common and a normal part of ageing, the onset of the illness may not be recognised immediately.
As the disease progresses, people around the affected person may begin to notice signs of the disease. The person with Alzheimer’s disease may begin to find it difficult to plan and organise, for example keeping track of monthly finances, and have less knowledge or memory of recent events. They may become withdrawn.
Later in the disease larger deficits in thinking and thought processes may appear, for example difficulties with basic mental arithmetic or inability to remember important personal details, such as their address. The affected person may become confused about where they are or what day it is.
In the severe stages of the disease, the affected person’s personality and behaviour may change. They may experience delusions and hallucinations, have disrupted sleep patterns and need help with dressing and toileting.
We don’t know what causes Alzheimer’s disease. Risk factors include age, having a first degree relative with the disease, having had a head injury in the past, and having low levels of physical activity, hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol or atrial fibrillation.
There are two types of Alzheimer’s disease: early-onset and late-onset. Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease is rare, affecting only about 5% of people with the disease. People with the early-onset form usually develop the disease between the ages of 30 and 60. Late-onset Alzheimer’s disease makes up the bulk of cases and affects people after the age of 60.