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J11 Contemporary dance improves motor function and body perception in huntington disease
  1. Iris Trinkler1,2,
  2. Philippe Chéhère3,
  3. Julie Salgues3,
  4. Marie-Lorraine Monin1,4,
  5. Sophie Tezenas du Montcel5,6,
  6. Sonia Khani1,
  7. Marcela Gargiulo4,7,8,
  8. Alexandra Durr1,4
  1. 1Brain and Spine Institute (ICM), Sorbonne University, Inserm U1127, CNRS UMR 7225, Pitié-Salpêtrière University Hospital, Paris, France
  2. 2Sports Sciences Department, EA 1342, University of Strasbourg, France
  3. 3Dance Association Kachashi, Paris, France
  4. 4AP-HP, Department of Genetics, Pitié-Salpêtrière University Hospital, Paris, France
  5. 5AP-HP, Department of Biostatistics and Medical Informatics, Pitié-Salpêtrière University Hospital, Paris, France
  6. 6Sorbonne University, INSERM UMRS 1136, Pierre Louis Institute of Epidemiology and Public Health, Paris, France
  7. 7Laboratory of Clinical Psychology, Psychopathology and Psychoanalysis (PCPP, EA 4056), University Paris Descartes, Sorbonne Paris City, Psychology Institute, Boulogne-Billancourt, France
  8. 8Institute of Myology, Pitié-Salpêtrière University Hospital, Paris, France


Background Physical exercise improves neurological conditions, but adherence is hard to establish. Dance might be a promising alternative. However, for patients with Huntington Disease (HD), who suffer from rhythmic movement execution deficits, metric dance practice might be unsuitable and alternatives must be explored.

Aims Here we asked, if contemporary dance, a lyrical dance form, practiced for two hours per week over five months, might improve motor function, body perception, and brain volume of HD patients.

Methods Nineteen patients aged between 43 and 78 years with mild to moderate HD (TFC range 7–13, UHDRS motor score range 3–58) participated in this randomized, controlled pilot study. The primary outcome measure was UHDRS motor score. Secondary outcome measures were body perception and structural brain differences. Body perception was assessed qualitatively with a semi-structured interview.

Results UHDRS motor score decreased from 28[6–51] (median [IQR]) to 27[7–33] for the dance group compared to 19[13–35] – 25[14–42] for usual care, Z=-2.44, p=0.015). Preliminary evidence yielded brain volume increase in the medial superior parietal and paracentral lobule, in line with compensatory structural brain changes in areas supporting spatial and sensory body representations. These brain changes were mirrored by patient reports that contemporary dance altered the way they ‘felt and lived in their bodies’.

Conclusions Contemporary dance practice, through work on spatial and bodily representations, helps improve motor function in HD patients.

  • contemporary dance practice
  • body perception
  • motor function

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