Health Benefits of the Arts for the Physically Disabled

Among the many health benefits and outcomes of art therapies for those who are physically disabled are improved balance and mobility, better gait, easier breathing, and less chronic pain and fear of falling.

Dance:

Effect of Dance on Balance, Mobility and Activities of Daily Living in Adults with Cerebral Palsy

In 2021, researchers conducted a study aimed at examining the long-term effect of dance on improving balance and mobility in adults with cerebral palsy. Their findings suggest that dance may have a positive impact in improving balance and mobility and may consequently contribute to healthy aging in adults with CP.

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Effects of Contemporary Dance and Physiotherapy Intervention on Balance and Postural Control in Parkinson’s Disease

In 2020, researchers in Spain studied the effects of a contemporary dance program, combined with conventional physiotherapy on postural control in mild-moderate Parkinson’s disease (PD) patients. After 8-weeeks of contemporary dance program combined with physiotherapy, they found improvements in functional mobility and balance, with a high degree of satisfaction for the PD patients.

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Targeted Ballet Program Mitigates Ataxia and Improves Balance in Females with Mild-to-Moderate Multiple Sclerosis

Researchers from several midwestern universities conducted a study in 2018 that examined a targeted ballet program (TBP) designed to mitigate ataxia and improve balance in females with mild-to-moderate relapsing-remitting MS. Improvements were observed, including smoothness of movement and balance in a step-to-stand task among the patients receiving the TBP which was well tolerated, improved balance and mitigated ataxia.

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A Pilot Study: Examining the Effects and Tolerability of Structured Dance Intervention for Individuals with Multiple Sclerosis

Researchers from Brown University and others conducted a pilot study to examine dance as a feasible intervention for persons with multiple sclerosis (MS), specifically to examine issues of tolerability and its longitudinal effects on participants. Their 2016 results suggested that dance for persons with MS may have promise for improving physical activity, gait and balance. The pilot salsa dance study demonstrated that the dances were well-tolerated, safe and effective at promoting physical activity in people with MS without increased fatigue.

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A Pilot Study: Examining the Effects and Tolerability of Structured Dance Intervention for Individuals with Multiple Sclerosis

Researchers in New England conducted a study in 2016 with MS patients to determine whether dance intervention helped them. The results suggest that dance for persons with MS may have promise for improving physical activity, gait and balance.

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Music/Singing:

Mental Singing Reduces Gait Variability More Than Music Listening for Healthy Older Adults and People with Parkinson’s Disease (PD)

In a 2019 study done by Dr. Elinor Harrison and others from the Departments of Neurology and Neuroscience at the Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, MO, found that singing – either aloud or mentally – at different tempos could improve gait characteristics while reducing gait variability for older adults and people with PD.

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The Effectiveness of Music Therapy for Individuals with Rett Syndrome and Their Families  

In 2019, researchers in Taiwan conducted a pilot study that investigated the effectiveness of music therapy on Rett syndrome (RTT) patients, as well as on parental stress for families of children with RTT. The results showed that music therapy improved receptive language, verbal and non-verbal communication skills, and social interaction for RTT patients. In addition, purposeful hand function, breathing patterns, and eye contact were significantly improved. Of note, music therapy also decreased the frequency of epileptic seizures. Lastly, caregivers in the study group exhibited significantly lower stress following the program.

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The Feasibility of Singing to Improve Gait in Parkinson Disease

In a 2017 study by the National Institutes of Health, it was found that walking was less variable when singing for people with Parkinson’s disease (PD). These findings suggest that singing holds promise as an effective cueing technique for improving gait among people with PD.

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Singing for Better Breathing: Findings from the Lambeth & Southwark Singing & COPD Project

In a 2017 study done at the Sidney de Haan Research Center for Arts and Health, researchers set up a network of community singing groups for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) to run over the course of ten months. The principal quantitative findings for COPD patients were, among others, a significant improvement on the St. George’s Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ), the primary outcome measure, and a reported fewer “bad days” and more “good days” by the participants. Participants also claimed that regular singing helped them in managing their respiratory symptoms, and reported improvements in mental wellbeing, attributing this to the singing.

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Vocal Music Therapy for Chronic Pain Management on Inner-City African Americans

Researchers in 2016 conducted a study to determine the feasibility and estimates of effect of vocal music therapy for chronic pain management. Their results suggests that vocal music therapy may be effective in building essential stepping-stones for effective chronic pain management, namely enhanced self-efficacy, motivation, empowerment and social engagement.

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Theater:

Using an Inclusive Therapeutic Theater Production to Teach Self-Advocacy Skills in Young People with Disabilities

In 2020, Dr. Angelle Cook from Lesley University conducted a study utilizing an inclusive therapeutic theatre production for young people with disabilities, mental illness and medical condition to establish if involvement in the production could affect self-advocacy skills, specifically assertiveness. The participants scored significantly higher in the post-test (after the therapy) than in the pre-test for assertiveness.

Abstract

Theatre Is a Valid Add-On Therapeutic Intervention for Emotional Rehabilitation of Parkinson’s Disease Patients

In 2017 researchers conducted a study on drama therapy for Parkinson’s disease (PD) patients. They found that emotional theatre training improved the emotional well-being of these patients and that theatre represents a valid add-on therapy for PD.

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A Pilot Study on an Analytic Psychodrama Group for Cancer Patients and Family Members  

Researchers in Italy studied the possible benefits of analytic psychodrama group (APG) in cancer recovery. The results of their 2017 study showed that the participants found that APG helped them increase self-awareness, express and share feelings, reduce fears and make decisions.

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Theatre and Therapy Project: An Interprofessional Exploratory Pilot Study

Researchers from Appalachian State University in 2016 led a pilot study designed to examine the efficacy of theatre as a therapeutic intervention context for adolescents and young adults with intellectual disability and autism, all of whom had moderate to severe communication impairments. Many benefits were observed from this intervention including modest gains in communication, self-direction and social skills.

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Visual Arts:

Art Therapy Drawing Protocols for Chronic Pain

In 2021, researchers in California explored the effect of an arts drawing protocol for trauma on chronic pain reduction. Their study found significant improvements in ratings of pain, and in the frequency of experiencing pain, depression, fear, anger, and relationship problems.

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The Effect of Mandala Colouring on Anxiety in Hospitalized COVID-19 Patients

Iranian researchers conducted a trial in 2021 to investigate the effect of mandala colouring on the anxiety of hospitalized COVID-19 patients. The results of the study showed that 30 minutes of mandala colouring daily is an effective strategy for reducing anxiety in COVID-19 patients during their stay in the hospital.

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Creative Arts-Based Therapies for Stroke Survivors: A Qualitative Systematic Review

In a 2018 study, Temmy Lee Ting Lo from the University of Hong Kong found that creative arts-based therapies have demonstrated strengths in addressing psychosocial needs for stroke survivors. Based on the experiences of the stroke survivors, creative arts-based therapies demonstrate the potential to supplement existing stroke rehabilitation programs that primarily focus on functional recovery. Interventions that offer opportunities for the participants to experience different art modalities during the process may foster participation and enhance flexibility.

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Art Therapy Improves Mood, and Reduces Pain and Anxiety When Offered at Bedside During Acute Hospital Treatment

Dr. Tamara Shella from the Cleveland Clinic conducted a study in 2017 using art therapy for patients admitted for acute care at a large teaching hospital. The analysis of the results demonstrated significant improvements in pain, mood and anxiety levels within all patients regardless of gender, age or diagnosis.

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Effects of Mindfulness-Based Art Therapy on Psychological Symptoms in Patients with Coronary Artery Disease

In 2018, Korean researchers conducted a trial to determine whether mindfulness-based art therapy (MBAT) induces emotional relaxation in coronary artery disease (CAD) patients. They concluded that MBAT can be seen as an effective treatment method that improves CAD patients’ psychological stability.

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