Study to determine if dance could help people living with dementia

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- An upcoming three-year study hopes to discover if improvisational dance helps people living with dementia. The moves already have shown to help people who attend a weekly class.

"It's for everyone," Wake Forest University Associate Professor of Dance Christina Soriano said. "The way people exit the class is different than the way they entered the class."

Recently, Soriano and Associate Professor of Geriatrics at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center Christina Hugenschmidt, have looked at brain scans of older adults before and after class.

"The change is so profound," Hugenschmidt said. "You don't need a degree in anything to tell that things are better for somebody before and after, and it was just seven weeks of dance."

The two professors hope to expand their research to see if dance can help people living with dementia. The three-year study, scheduled to start this October, comes thanks to a $1.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health.

Longtime dance students say they believe the study will show what they already feel.

"The more movement you have the better off that you are," said Keith Lawson, who stepped on the improvisational dance floor after being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in March. "I have more clarity to things and I actually save my most life important things that I need to do -- I do it on the days after that class."

To learn more about the weekly class and the study, click here.