Tango therapy may cut risk of falls in cancer patients

New York, July 6 (IANS) Argentine Tango dance has the potential to significantly improve balance and reduce falls risk among cancer patients post treatment, finds a study that addresses the prevalent side effects of cancer treatment.

According to researchers nearly 70 per cent of cancer patients treated with chemotherapy will experience peripheral neuropathy as a side effect post treatment.

Peripheral neuropathy is weakness, numbness or loss of sensation in the hands, fingers, feet and toes and pain from nerve damage.

The findings revealed that after just five weeks of Argentine tango, medial and lateral sway decreased by 56 per cent indicating that this is a promising balance intervention for cancer survivors experiencing impaired balance post treatment.

“The study showed that Argentine Tango has measurable effects on balance — but our patients report really enjoying dance as therapy. It is a fun, social way to do the necessary work and our initial data shows it has some positive impact for restoring balance,” said Mimi Lamantia from The Ohio State University in the US.

In addition, the patients also found that the Argentine tango was more easier to adhere than the traditional physical therapy.

“So many patients tell us that it is difficult to stay committed to physical therapy because it is hard and feels like work,” Lamantia added.

Long-term neuropathy in the feet and toes can be especially problematic because it affects a person’s balance and gait. This puts them in an elevated fall risk when they are engaging in daily life activities.

“That’s a big deal because many more people are surviving cancer. Dealing with the issues that impact a person’s quality of life after cancer is extremely important,” noted another researcher Lise Worthen-Chaudhari from The Ohio State University.

For the study, the team designed a dance intervention course that involved 20 sessions of adapted Argentine Tango. Patients participated in one-hour sessions twice a week for 10 weeks.

Researchers measured patients’ standing postural sway (eyes closed) with a computer-aided force platform at the beginning of the dance intervention series and at completion of the 10-weeks of instruction. Patients were also asked to report satisfaction with the intervention.

Initial data from the first three patients who participated in the Argentine Tango study will be presented at the 2016 annual meeting of American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine in Chicago.



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