Movement helps stroke patients recover mobility. This is a widely-accepted phenomenon.
Dancing, which is an artistic form of movement, can also help stroke patients recover.
Learn how Dance Movement Therapy can help patients recover from stroke below.
What Is Dance Movement Therapy?
Dance Movement Therapy is a type of psychotherapy that uses movement to help patients deal with emotional, cognitive, and physical challenges.
There is no single type of dancing required. While some therapists prefer to use structured approaches (like ballroom dancing), others prefer freeform movement.
The focus isn’t placed on what type of dancing is used. Rather, Dance Movement Therapy is all about expressing your feelings through body movement.
This expression is why Dance Movement Therapy can help alleviate depression and anxiety, which are two common post-stroke symptoms.
Benefits of Dance Movement Therapy for Stroke Recovery
On a physical level, Dance Movement Therapy can help improve coordination, movement, and muscle tone.
The therapy also helps enhance thinking skills, motivation, and memory on a cognitive level.
If that doesn’t sound perfect enough, Dance Movement Therapy can also help participants feel more joyful and confident – and that’s equally important!
Stroke survivors can experience relief, even it it’s just temporary, from negative emotions and feel more motivated towards recovery.
How to Start Dance Movement Therapy
To perform Dance Movement Therapy, all you have to do is… move.
You don’t have to be a good dancer or even have rhythm. You just need to move. Do what feels good.
Wiggle your body, wiggle your limbs. Sway side to side on your feet or in a chair. Close your eyes. Get lost in it.
Soon you’ll find that you’re more in touch with your body, mind, and spirit.
You’ll find a way to express yourself in a truly authentic way that just feels good!
Dance Movement Therapy in the Pool?
Dance Movement Therapy doesn’t always have to be practiced on land.
In fact, assistance from a therapist or caregiver in a pool is great for stroke survivors because the decrease in weight allows you to move your affected limbs more easily.
Here’s a story that Ande Welling, a dance movement therapist, shared through the American Dance Therapy Association that simply touched our heart:
“With another woman, we use water to find increased mobility. On land, gravity wins, the hemi-paresis and blindness keep her in an anatomical prison.
In the water her whole body is lighter… and she finds freedom and laughter as she swims, walks, jumps, and falls. In the water, the fear of falling is diminished… and for a few sweet minutes, she can let go…
Sometimes, her mood shifts, the hopelessness of being bound in a body that refuses to do what it used to, is temporarily suspended. This also triggers a release of grief, the waves of sadness for what once was, flow freely.
All responses seem beneficial – the shift in mood, which typically allows her to find motivation to engage in additional therapeutic activities, or the space to grieve and let go while being supported by myself and the water, she says ‘I feel like a person again, even for just a minute.’”
This story shows just how powerful Dance Movement Therapy can be in stroke rehabilitation therapy.
Stroke survivors can experience freedom within their bodies, even if it’s just for a minute, and that’s a precious gift.
We encourage you to try it for yourself, even if all you do is sway your head side to side.