Dance Program for Physical Rehabilitation and Participation in Children with Cerebral Palsy
Lopez-Ortiza, C., Gladdena, K., Deona, L., Schmidt, J., Girolami, G., & Gaebler-Spira, D. (2011). Dance program for physical rehabilitation and participation in children with cerebral palsy. Arts & Health, 1-16.
This pilot study aimed to examine a classical ballet program created for children with cerebral palsy (CP) as an emerging physical rehabilitation modality. The main program goals were to promote participation and to provide an artistic, physically therapeutic activity. Children with CP have problems with coordination and mobility challenges. The study aimed to determine whether the structure of ballet (movements) would be physically beneficial to children with CP.
A total of 16 children with cerebral palsy participated in the study. Surveys were also given to parents (16) and therapists (13).
Two groups of dance classes were established: group one consisted of children with a Gross Motor Function Classification Score (GMFCS) of 1 or 2; and the second group included children with a GMFCS score of 3 or 4. The classes were held in a rehabilitation hospital, an outpatient physical therapy clinic, and a community center for children. Volunteers and some parents were available to assist during the class. Classes were held once weekly for 5 to 8 weeks, depending on location availability. The children with GMFCS I or II were typically assisted by one or two volunteers, while the children with GMFCS III or IV were typically assisted by two or three volunteers, depending on their individual needs.
The children were surveyed only once at the end of the first full session. Only eight children, their assistants, and the teacher participated in a demonstration of the dance class in a formal dance recital at the end. The children and their parents were surveyed again after the performance.
Final results showed that overall: (a) children expressed high levels of enjoyment and desire for more classes as well as general interest in dance, (b) parents rated the class highly with overall enjoyment, therapeutic benefit, positive influence in other ongoing therapy, and would enroll their children again, (c) therapists identified advantages working in the dance class setting, would make changes in their personal therapy sessions because of this program, had new treatment ideas as a result of their participation in the class, felt that the children gained benefits that might not be achieved in a typical therapy program, and viewed the class as a positive adjunct to traditional therapy.
In general, the dance movements and techniques of ballet have the potential to improve children's posture and movement abilities and help them in psychosocial areas. However, the main area of concern involves limitation of the use of subjective outcome measures; as well as the need for more research in this area.