Research findings by University of Malta Master’s student Natalie Muschamp on the benefits of dance for people affected by Parkinson’s disease was recently presented at the prestigious fifth World Parkinson’s Congress held recently in Kyoto, Japan.
The triennial congress brings together health practitioners, scientists, neurologists, sufferers and caregivers to learn about the latest scientific discoveries, medical practices, caregiver initiatives and advocacy work in the field. Ms Muschamp was the only speaker from Malta invited to attend.
Her poster presentation outlined findings from her research into the therapeutic benefits of dance for Parkinson’s sufferers and their carers. “The research I presented shows that movement and dance can really improve quality of life, not only for people with Parkinson’s but also for their carers, who are on their own journey after this life-changing diagnosis,” she said.
The health and well-being improvements Ms Muschamp found were specifically around anxiety, mood, sociability, well-being and energy levels, with participants in the study saying they always felt better after dancing, and that going to classes gave them “a chance to forget”.
Ms Muschamp said the tone of the congress was extremely hopeful and uplifting, and she received very positive feedback from her poster presentation and an offer of international collaboration in the future.
Being part of this global discussion made Ms Muschamp very keen to see a platform developed in Malta that would give the various providers of Parkinson’s-related services a way to work together as a team for the benefit of the patient. She is keen for Malta to lead the way by becoming the first country in the world to make dance therapy accessible as part of the public health system.
Ms Muschamp was encouraged and supported to attend the congress by several supporters, particularly her mentors at the University’s Centre for Entrepreneurship and Business Incubation (CEBI) and people she described as her “Parkinson’s family”.
“Social entrepreneurship has given me a vehicle to find solutions to a problem that I’m passionate about solving, and mentoring has helped me to take this idea and turn it into my life’s work. I will never stop, it’s my everything,” she said.
About Step Up For Parkinson’s
Step Up For Parkinson’s is a voluntary organisation whose primary aim is to improve the quality of life of people with Parkinson’s Disease (PD) and their carers through the provision of dance therapy in Malta and Gozo. The organisation’s secondary aims include raising awareness of PD both within Malta and beyond; conducting research into dance therapy techniques for people with Parkinson’s (PWPs) and their carers; creating an international network of experts in PD and the use of dance therapy for PWPs and their carers.