Strictly Come Dancing with Parkinson’s: a regional health service – community research initiative translating evidence into practice

Dr Anna Moran1, Ms Georgina Howard2, Ms Alys Cummings2

1Albury Wodonga Health – University Of Melbourne, Albury, Australia, 2Albury Wodonga Health, WODONGA, Australia


o examine the impact of translating evidence-based dance classes for persons with Parkinson’s Disease (PD) into a regional Victorian dance school.

Pragmatic, multi-methods design. Persons with PD and their carers were invited to participate in a jointly-led rehabilitation staff, dance school initiative in regional Victoria to implement a 6 month evidence-based dance programme for persons with PD. Mirroring Shanahan & Morris’s work: capacity to participate safely in the classes was assessed, dance teachers were trained and baseline and follow-up measures were taken. Focus group interviews were undertaken with participants and dance staff. Data were analysed descriptively and thematically.

12 people with PD, 4 carers, 4 dance teachers and 2 rehabilitation staff participated in the initiative. The group were extremely varied in their PD presentation (n=11, Hoehn and Yahr range 1-5, median 2). Follow-up outcome measures demonstrated little functional change. The initiative engaged participants who were not currently accessing other rehabilitation services offered. The success of the intervention was perceived as: providing an opportunity for “connectedness” and “enjoyable movement”. This was achieved through a small funding grant and support from rehabilitation professionals alongside the skill of dance staff who used “happy music”, mirroring, repetition and the use of storey lines that were progressively built upon over the 6 month period. The programme has continued beyond the life of the project.

Significance to AH:
This initiative demonstrates the importance of translating low-cost, high impact evidence-based interventions into practice in settings outside traditional rehabilitation environments.


Georgie Howard is a Physiotherapist currently working within the Transition Care Program and has a special interest in stroke recovery and Parkinson’s disease. Georgie has extensive clinical experience in geriatric rehabilitation and enjoys supporting patients to bridge the gap between hospital and home after a major health event.

Alys Cummings is a speech pathologist who works within the Rural Allied Health Team and the Transition Care Program. Alys supports the Albury Wodonga, Beechworth and Corryong Parkinson’s peer support groups. She has a clinical interest in improving the quality of life of adults living with disability.