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Dance and Music Therapy Helps Patients with Parkinson’s at Hebrew Rehabilitation Center

Dance for Parkinson’s disease program recently established at HRC
Dancers for PD at the Brooklyn Parkinson’s Group (image: www.brooklynparkinsongroup.org)

At Hebrew Rehabilitation Center, our expressive therapy staff helps to bring out the best in our long-term chronic care patients. Staff considers each patient’s unique background and creates meaningful ways for them to engage with one another and the world around them.

Dance is a big part of expressive therapy at HRC. Whitney DiGeronimo, MA, R-DMT, a registered dance/movement therapist with the American Dance Therapy Association, recently introduced a new movement-support group called Dance for Parkinson’s.

Whitney provides a weekly service for a group of patients living with Parkinson’s disease, where participants explore dance, music, and self-expression in a safe and stimulating environment. The group focuses on mind/body/emotional connection, increased self-awareness, and personal empowerment. Participants can practice planned and spontaneous movement, flexibility, coordination, focus, and vocal exercises. Various genres of dance and music are explored, and creative social interaction is encouraged.

Whitney explains, “Dance provides an opportunity for improved physical, social, emotional, and cognitive well-being. For our patients living with Parkinson’s disease, physical engagement is essential. The structure of the Dance for Parkinson’s service not only targets the motor-symptoms of the disease, but also provides emotional support, as well as cognitive engagement and an opportunity for social interaction.”

In order to provide a specialized service to meet the needs of our patients living with Parkinson’s disease, Whitney has recently completed the Dance Teacher Course / Introductory Dance for PD® Training Workshop. This training is presented by David Leventhal, Dance for PD® founding teacher, at the Mark Morris Dance Center in Brooklyn, New York. The Dance for PD® program comes from collaboration between the Mark Morris Dance Group and Brooklyn Parkinson Group.

At HRC, Whitney is facilitating a service with a similar structure to that of the “Dance for PD®” model, but designing the choreography to best highlight the strengths and abilities of our patients. The program is titled “Dance for Parkinson’s at Hebrew Rehabilitation Center.” Two graduate student interns assist Whitney by helping teach the movements and providing support.

When asked why do you attend Dance for Parkinson’s at HRC? Bill, an HRC patient and member of the group, responds, “It keeps the bones and muscles working. Things I never used before, now I am using them. They’re not getting stagnant.”

Janet, another patient and dancer, states, “I like to dance because it is freeing. It makes me feel more free, and I love the music!” And program participant Judith adds, “Dance for Parkinson’s makes me feel like I can think.”

Whitney shares her enthusiasm about the program by saying, “Dance for Parkinson’s at HRC is off to an exciting start!” It is inspiring to see members of our community moving and singing together, connecting with one another, and eager to learn new material. I am always looking forward to see what each new session will bring.”

Bill Burgey's picture

About the Blogger

Health Care Marketing Communications Manager until August 2017

As a member of the Hebrew SeniorLife marketing communications team, Bill Burgey is responsible for leading marketing initiatives for Hebrew Rehabilitation Center. He takes great pride in working with staff at all levels of the organization to achieve desired results. 

He is responsible for the recent launch of Hebrew Rehabilitation Center’s long-term care lead generation campaign and works on projects to strengthen branding ties between HSL and its health care services.  Bill works with the marketing teams at Boston area hospitals to develop strategic communications plans around...

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Glad to know that Vaidic Science of Healing Music and Dance is being revived at HSL. During Vaidic Era, Indra was the pioneer of this science.

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