Performing Arts, Physical Therapy Education departments offer virtual dance program for individuals with Parkinson’s Disease

In a research study that was done completely virtually and funded by the Parkinson’s Foundation, Department of Performing Arts in collaboration with Department of Physical Therapy Education successfully offered classes based on the Mark Morris Dance for Parkinson’s Disease program virtually to five individuals.

Results from the study presented at the SHS Global Engagement and Research Forum

A successful collaboration between faculty from Departments of Performing Arts and Physical Therapy Education involving both undergraduate and graduate students provided a unique virtual dance intervention and assessments for individuals with Parkinson’s disease.

Associate Professor Jen Guy Metcalf and her student offering a virtual dance class

Associate Professor of Dance Jen Guy Metcalf and her undergraduate students Lilly Beaver, Averie Bernstein, Kiersten Borkert, Skyler Sajewski and John Zamborsky from the Dance Science, Dance Performance & Choreography and Musical Theatre programs offered 16 one-hour dance classes twice a week over eight weeks. First-year Elon Doctor of Physical Therapy graduate students Maryanne Wilson and Andi Crosby under the mentorship of Assistant Professor Crystal Ramsey and Associate Professor Srikant Vallabhajosula completed assessments related to walking, balance and cognition virtually using the Zoom platform. The assessments and dance classes are typically performed in-person and the team adapted to offer the program and assessments in a unique virtual manner.

DPT student engaging in tele-health practice performing a virtual assessment

Results from the study were presented at the annual School of Health Sciences Global Engagement and Research Forum. All five participants completed 16 sessions showing good adherence to a telehealth program. Though Parkinson’s disease is degenerative and progressive in nature, participants in general showed similar or higher levels of walking, balance and cognition abilities when comparing before- and after-intervention. Participants also expressed their immense satisfaction with the study and expressed their desire to continue participation in the future.

The team intends to submit results to national conferences and to offer opportunities to participate in Spring 2021. Since this is not limited to a geographic region, anyone interested in participating in the program or knows someone who can benefit, please contact Vallabhajosula at