When it comes to Parkinson's relief, it takes two to tango

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Researchers have found a new physical approach to help patients with Parkinson's disease improve their mobility and balance: the tango.

One reason the seductive dance is so effective in treating symptoms of Parkinson's, according to researcher Madeline E. Hackney, a pre-doctoral trainee in movement science, is the community factor. Other aspects make the tango a success, as well. Balance exercises, footwork patterns, timing of steps and stylized walking all help patients improve their balance and mobility.

Researchers at the Washington University in St. Louis medical school compared the benefits of tango lessons over exercise classes, which are a more traditional form of mobility therapy for Parkinson's sufferers. While it was found that both forms of therapy improved mobility, the tango group showed a marked improvement in balance over the exercise group. The study was published in the Journal of Neurologic Physical Therapy.