Argentine Tango dance may significantly improve balance and reduce the risk of falls among cancer patients post treatment, a new study has claimed.
Up to 70 per cent of patients treated with chemotherapy experience peripheral neuropathy as a side effect of cancer treatment, researchers said. The condition can cause loss of sensation in the hands, fingers, feet and toes. One in 3 patients still experience this problem six months post treatment. 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,” said Lise Worthen-Chaudhari from The Ohio State University in the US. “As a dancer, I study the art of movement and as a biomechanist and rehabilitation scientist, I study the math and the science of movement. We thought that it would be a powerful combination to put all those together to try to help cancer survivors,” she added.
To evaluate the effect of Argentine Tango practice on the biomechanical predictors of fall risk among cancer survivors, Worthen-Chaudhari and Mimi Lamantia from Pelotonia, a Non-Profit Organisation in Columbus, US 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. “We’ve shown that Argentine Tango has measurable effects on balance – but our patients report really enjoying dance as therapy,” said Lamantia, who taught the Argentine Tango to a class of about 30 cancer survivors for this study. “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 Lamantia. “We show 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,” she said.