Community-Based Argentine Tango Dance Program Is Associated With Increased Activity Participation Among Individuals With Parkinson's Disease

  • Erin R. Foster
    Program in Occupational Therapy, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO

    Department of Neurology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO

    Department of Psychiatry, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO
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  • Laura Golden
    Program in Occupational Therapy, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO
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  • Ryan P. Duncan
    Program in Physical Therapy, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO
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  • Gammon M. Earhart
    Corresponding author: Gammon M. Earhart, PhD, PT, Associate Professor of Physical Therapy, Anatomy and Neurobiology, and Neurology, Washington University School of Medicine, Program in Physical Therapy, Campus Box 8502, 4444 Forest Park Blvd, St Louis, MO 63108.
    Program in Physical Therapy, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO

    Department of Neurology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO

    Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO
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Published:August 16, 2012DOI:



      To determine the effects of a 12-month community-based tango dance program on activity participation among individuals with Parkinson's disease (PD).


      Randomized controlled trial with assessment at baseline, 3, 6, and 12 months.


      Intervention was administered in the community; assessments were completed in a university laboratory.


      Volunteers with PD (n=62) enrolled in the study and were randomized to a treatment group; 10 participants did not receive the allocated intervention, and therefore the final analyzed sample included 52 participants.


      Participants were randomly assigned to the tango group, which involved 12 months of twice-weekly Argentine tango dance classes, or to the no intervention control group (n=26 per group).

      Main Outcome Measure

      Current, new, and retained participation in instrumental, leisure, and social activities, as measured by the Activity Card Sort (with the dance activity removed).


      Total current participation in the tango group was higher at 3, 6, and 12 months compared with baseline (Ps≤.008), while the control group did not change (Ps≥.11). Total activity retention (since onset of PD) in the tango group increased from 77% to 90% (P=.006) over the course of the study, whereas the control group remained around 80% (P=.60). These patterns were similar in the separate activity domains. The tango group gained a significant number of new social activities (P=.003), but the control group did not (P=.71).


      Individuals with PD who participated in a community-based Argentine tango class reported increased participation in complex daily activities, recovery of activities lost since the onset of PD, and engagement in new activities. Incorporating dance into the clinical management of PD may benefit participation and subsequently quality of life for this population.


      List of abbreviations:

      ACS (Activity Card Sort), ADL (activities of daily living), PD (Parkinson's disease), UPDRS (Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale), WUSM (Washington University School of Medicine)
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