Seniors Tango Their Way to Improved Mobility and Coordination

A pretty remarkable study is currently being conducted at Wesley Woods Towers, part of the Wesley Woods Health Center. Researchers are incorporating the tango, yes the Latin American ballroom dance, into senior life at the retirement community. The hope is that its effects will positively benefit mobility, balance, and motor skills of the 20 senior participants. The study, being spearheaded by Atlanta Veterans Affair researcher Madeleine Hackney, PhD, involves seniors ranging in age from 60 to 95 who will participate in 20 tango classes over a period of ten weeks.

To gauge the effects of the dance classes, after all 20 classes have been completed, each senior will participate in a series of standardized assessments to measure the specific physical and emotional benefits achieved from the dance program. However, according to some participants, benefits are already being seen.

For example, Ed Sporleder, a 77-year-old dance program participant notes, “Some people who were having a tough time walking are now able to walk with coordination and larger steps to propel themselves forward. The Emory volunteers are marvelous, and everyone is having a wonderful time.”Wesley Woods Seniors Tango Dancing Video

More than just improved mobility and emotional well being, the tango may also prove to help seniors with low vision and impaired coordination. As Hackney remarks, “There is evidence that it may help frail, older individuals with sensor motor impairments, in terms of balance, gait and coordination. Tango also incorporates the healthy and safe use of motor skills that may be impaired by low vision and other health challenges, such as Parkinson’s disease. […] Tango has simpler basic step elements and less restricted movement patterns than dances like the waltz and foxtrot. Tango dancers must plan their movements ahead of time but because of tango’s great flexibility, dancers can expand their motor repertoire through movement improvisation.”

We will continue to follow this extraordinary story and study and will be sure to follow up via our blog to share the results.

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