Dance Therapy for down Syndrome Effects and Improvements

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For most of their life, people with Down syndrome will go through years of physical therapy. Although this is an effective form of treatment, could there be a more effective form of Therapy? By looking at statistics as well as personal experiences, we can see that dance would be considered the better form of physical therapy for those with Down syndrome; This is important because we strive to better the lives of those with disabilities and encourage them to take part in every ones day to day activities. By allowing children as well as adults to take part in dance classes as a form of physical therapy not only will they better their hand-eye coordination and muscle memory, the will also gain confidence in themselves and their social abilities. Dance over yoga, martial arts, and team sports uses music to keep tempo and keeps a consistent movement pattern throughout a dance that could take months to perfect. Throughout research we have found that dance classes are a more effective form of therapy for those with down syndrome. During classes children or adults will learn a series of combinations that strengthen their hand-eye coordination as well as their muscle memory.

What is Down syndrome? According to the Mayo Clinic, Down syndrome is a genetic disorder caused when abnormal cell division results in an extra full or partial copy of chromosome 21. This extra genetic material causes the developmental changes and physical features of Down syndrome(mayo clinic, pg.1). People with Down syndrome experience difficulties with hand-eye coordination as well as muscle memory. Although physical therapy helps with hand-eye coordination as well as muscle memory, dance could be considered the better form of therapy over not only regular PT, but as well as yoga, sports, and other arts as well. Learning dance combinations and repeating certain techniques accompanied by music can increase muscle memory and hand-eye coordination while keeping life interesting and allowing them to work with peers.

In the article Crossing the Midline, we learn about the Company D's Dance Troupe. Christopher Blank gives us some insight into Company D's Dance troupe created by Darlene Winters. This company is a mixed company that allows children with and without disabilities to dance and grow together. The company has grown greatly over the past 10 years that it's been running. Winters states, "From the beginning, I wanted to raise awareness of what's possible," Winters says. "But I also wanted people to respond to our artistry. I never think I'm setting a piece for someone with a disability, though the process is different.(winters, pg.17)" She helps other studios properly train children with down syndrome and gives hope to not only the children, but also the parents of the children with disabilities. This company supports children with down syndrome using dance as physical therapy.

The article Dancing with Down Syndrome: A Phenomenological Case Study, goes a little bit deeper into research about why dance is an effective form of Physical therapy. When children with Down syndrome learn a combination and practice it over and over their muscles begin to memorize the sequence. Dancing with down syndrome isn't a highly researched topic although it is a highly effective form of physical therapy for those with Down syndrome. Down syndrome is a common disability that limits the psychological, social, and physical components of the person with the disability. Due to the lack of research a study was done to test the effectiveness of dance on someone with Down syndrome. They studied the perspective of the 21 year-old doing the study and his parents. After analyzing the data from the study, it was found that dance indeed was an effective form of physical therapy for those with down syndrome.

Lauren Clark's Movement Patterns and Quality of Life for individuals with down syndrome: An Overview of Dance as Physical Therapy, discusses how dance and music quality could be more entertaining for children with down syndrome. Children and adults with Down syndrome often are required to attend physical therapy which can be a struggle if they get bored or distracted while attempting to complete the physical tasks. Clark discusses how if we intertwine dance movements and physical therapy training it might be more exciting for people with down syndrome. This form of therapy would be more exciting because of the interaction with other peers and maybe using their favorite song and allowing them to create something of their own. As adults with Down syndrome start aging, their memory skills start to deteriorate along with other things. Keeping them engaged with dance skills and physical therapy could help preserve their muscle memory. Overall this article is stressing the importance of enhancing the quality of life for those with Down syndrome.

Adaptive dance is a program created by Boston Ballet where they collaborate with the Boston's Children's Hospital to create movement to help the development in children with Down syndrome. Adaptive dance wanted to give children with Down syndrome confidence along with mobility and focus skills. This program taught children with this disability that they can overcome their challenges not only physically but also emotionally. These children were able to find their true selves through dancing. This gives us a little insight into how effective this is for not only the children and their families but also the founders and teachers that are involved. This collaboration gave children from the Boston's Children's Hospital a different outlook towards life and taught them strategies that they could not learn through regular therapy such as, learning how to match their movements to music and remembering which movement was to happen during a certain part of the song.

The article The Influence Of The Dance for People with Down Syndrome, discusses how dance is more effective for learning for those with down syndrome. Dance has never been seen as a form of physical therapy until we realized that it can help with motor skills, coordination, and balance. These three skills are difficult for children and adults with down syndrome, so why not use dance as a form of physical therapy for those with Down Syndrome? To prove this theory, 12 members of the ALDO-CET B??ile??ti Association took part in a study that involved using dance as therapy. In this study, they would be examined biweekly and were tested before and after the therapy to determine if it was more effective. The results of this project proved that in fact dance is a better form of physical therapy for people of all ages with Down syndrome.

We see an example of a study done in the article Effects of a Dance Program on Static Balance On a Platform in Young Adults with Down Syndrome. They face themselves with the question How will an 18-week study compare the static balance and posture control in people with and without Down syndrome with their eyes open and closed? This studied included 22 people all at the age of 20 there were 11 with Down syndrome and 11 without Down syndrome. After the study was completed, it was concluded that those with Down syndrome have worse closed and open eye center of pressure than those without Down syndrome. Their visual information is also affected differently that those without Down syndrome. In volume 33 Issue 3 Gutierrez-Vilah?? states It can be concluded that young people with DS differ from TD participants in terms of control of the center of gravity during static standing, speci cally in extent of displacement rather than the oscillation frequency of their center of gravity. The displacement amplitude is higher in young people with DS. Furthermore, we have found that this center-of-gravity behavior does not change according to the visual condition, that is, whether they use visual cues. (Gutierrez-Vilah??, pg.248). With the dance training, there was definitely an increase in center of pressure. Learning how to perform with their eyes closed increased their mobility skills along with their memorization skills. This concludes that dance is an effective form of physical therapy for people with Down syndrome.

According to Assumption College, Down syndrome is the most commonly occurring chromosomal condition and it affects more than 400,000 people in the United States. The chances of having a child with Down syndrome increases as the mother ages (Clark, pg.1). Adults and children living with down syndrome grow up with Multiple health issues that affect their quality of life. Physical Therapy is the main healing factor to these health issues but after multiple studies, doctors have realized that there has been an increase in lack of motivation when it comes to people with Down syndrome and physical therapy. Through recent studies it has become aware to doctors that dance has sparked interest in those with Down syndrome and they find a sense of self confidence through the art of dance. It is encouraged for Therapist as well as instructors to incorporate the art of dance as well as repetitive movements to ensure a positive outcome for people with down syndrome and give them something to look forward to each day. Quality of life is one of the biggest concerns when it comes to disabilities like Down syndrome we must strive to ensure that they are in a positive environment and are enjoying the activities they are taking part in.

Another study I reviewed was done by Diana Schulman and Blanche Dupont where 10 people with Down syndrome ranging from ages 3 to 13 took part in an experiment to test their toe standing balance as well as single-point standing balance with their eyes open and closed. For six months, a semiweekly program involving physical therapy and dance curriculum/ movements would be conducted. Every program involved dance and gymnastic movements accompanied by music and repetitive movements. Author Blanche Dupont wrote, It was hypothesized that a specially designed dance curriculum which integrated dance and traditional physical therapy facilitation techniques could benefit children with Down Syndrome because of the combined inherent cognitive and motor effects of the two modalities (Dupont, pg.19). After the six-month program the researchers came to the conclusion that dance was in fact a better form of therapy and taught these children certain skills that physical therapy struggles too such as balance, tempo, and muscle memory. There was an increase in not only their muscle memory but as well as their rhythmic understanding and hand eye coordination skills.

In the spring of 2010, The Global Down Syndrome Foundation decided to create a program named the Be Beautiful Be Yourself Dance Program. Most dance instructors are not properly trained to teach a child with Down syndrome and as parents began to notice their child was being left out due to their disability, they decided to take action. Patricia C. Winders a well-known down syndrome specialist and physical therapist created this program. This program was designed to give the parents of the children with Down syndrome reassurance and confidence that their child would be taken care of when taking part in this art. Quality of life is the main concern of parents as well as the other people involved in this program such as instructors and physical therapist. The Global Down Syndrome Foundation states, The purpose of the program is to instill a lifelong love of dance and movement in each student. The students work on physical stamina, verbalization skills, following directions, and coordinated interaction. They learn ballet movement, music appreciation, rhythm and basic dance steps (The Global Down Syndrome Foundation, pg.1). This foundation is doing a beautiful thing not only for the families and children affected by Down Syndrome but as well as the community they are surrounded by.

In the article Children with Down Syndrome: Discovering the Joy of Movement, we realize that movement is a very important aspect in children's growth. For children with Down syndrome, therapist always recommend for these children to heavily involve themselves in some kind of movement whether it be running or physical therapy, but for some time we have ruled out dance due to the difficulty in skills and tricks. As more studies have been conducted, we have come to realize that dance could be the best candidate for people with Down syndrome when it comes to therapy. Ballet is said to strengthen the balance as well as the create a sense of awareness within their bodies. Laban movements are not only essential in the dance world but as well as in physical therapy for people with Down syndrome. Anne Jobling states, with a Laban approach, children with DS are taught awareness of their body in three ways as they move-body awareness, space awareness, and effort awareness. Body awareness is an important prerequisite to knowing what the body does and how limbs function in movement. For example, what parts of my body are moving now? How does my body move? How can I use my body to perform that action? Where are my head, arms, legs, and trunk?(Jobling, pg.36) This article truly gives us a deeper insight into what movements do what, for people with Down syndrome. Jobling also includes, The children can be introduced to body parts during a circle time. A percussion instrument provides the rhythm as they sing or recite the following words: "clap, clap, clap your hands; tap, tap, tap your head; beep, beep, beep your nose; wiggle, wiggle, wiggle your toes (Jobling, pg.36)." The positive effect dance has on children with disabilities, both physical and emotional, is astounding.

We can conclude that although physical therapy is in fact an effective form of treatment for the disabilities associated with Down syndrome, dance curriculum and movement is ultimately the better choice for people of all ages with Down syndrome, as noted in the Be Beautiful Be Yourself program. Many parents whose children have Down syndrome often see their child being left out due to the physical and mental limitations associated with Down syndrome. We should encourage those with Down syndrome, along with their families, to engage in this beautiful form of art to increase growth as well as social abilities. In contrast to traditional physical therapy, dance therapy incorporates music, movement, and the opportunity to interact with others with similar limitations which promotes the development of friendships, artistic expression, and a sense of belonging with others. We must focus on quality of life and what will make these extraordinary people happy along with treating their disabilities and enhancing their strengths. Participation in dance over yoga, team sports, and physical therapy will create fulfilling, beneficial opportunities for individuals with Down syndrome and provides an atmosphere in which they can be themselves without judgment. After researching multiple studies regarding utilization of dance as physical therapy, it is evident that dance not only gives children confidence, but it also increases muscle memory, music appreciation, hand-eye coordination, and balance. I believe we should encourage people with Down syndrome, as well as their families, to step out of their comfort zones and allow their children to become a part of something that will assist them in developing social, emotional, and physical skills through the beautiful art of dance.

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Dance Therapy for Down Syndrome Effects and Improvements. (2019, Oct 30). Retrieved September 24, 2023 , from

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