Healing spinal injury with dance therapy!

May 29th, 2008 - 11:40 am ICT by admin  

By Azera Rahman
New Delhi, May 29 (IANS) Come Friday and the corridors of the Indian Spinal Injuries Centre (ISIC) in Delhi fill up with music. Peep into one of the rooms and you see a lot of happy faces, dancing away to glory on wheelchairs. In what is possibly the first of its kind in India, a medical care centre has introduced dance therapy as a healing tool for its patients.

“The benefits of dance therapy - both psychologically and physically - are not unknown in India. But it is for the first time that it has been introduced in a healthcare centre under medical supervision. Needless to say the results have been amazing,” Deepti Aggarwal, head of the lifestyle management department of the Indian Spinal Injuries Centre (ISIC), told IANS.

Explaining the benefits of dance therapy which was introduced in the centre four months ago, Aggarwal said that dance doesn’t just help one strengthen the muscles but also boosts the confidence of patients and lifts their mood.

“In a spinal cord injury case, a person’s physical and mental balance is destroyed. To ask such a person to dance might seem insensitive, but what we are promoting - wheelchair dance - not only acts like a physiotherapy session but also boosts the person’s confidence level,” she said.

According to Aggarwal, there are two kinds of spinal injuries - paraplegia, when the lower limbs of a person are paralysed, and quadriplegia, when the upper as well as lower limbs are affected.

“Hand movements for a person suffering from quadriplegia can be painful and finger movements are restricted. But they can move their shoulders and their elbows. Therefore in the first step, the patient learns to propel his wheelchair and move their bodies rhythmically.

“When there is synchronisation with music, one tends to feel less pain. Right now we are dancing on Hindi film music, which everyone relates to. Songs like ‘Chak de’ from the film ‘Chak De! India’ are motivating while slow numbers like ‘Tere Bin’ makes it easier for them to propel their wheelchair to music,” she said.

What’s more, members of famed choreographer Shiamak Davar’s troupe are coordinating the dance sessions that are held once a week and have at least 15 participants.

Pragya Ghildial, a 26-year-old woman who is paralysed waste downwards and is a yoga instructor at ISIC, is an enthusiastic participant in the dance sessions. She says they have helped her improve her balance a great deal.

“The thing with exercising and physiotherapy sessions is that you tend to get bored of them after some time. But not with a therapeutic exercise like this with music.

“Also, the second step of dance therapy when we are required to dance with an able-bodied partner helps in boosting your confidence that we are as capable as anyone else,” said Ghildiyal, who now helps in coordinating the dance sessions.

So despite the known benefits of dance, what took the medical centre so long to introduce this therapy here?

“It’s a mindset we are talking about. In medicine, when we talk about treatment we generally mean allopathic treatment,” Aggarwal said.

“But in ISIC’s lifestyle management department, which in itself is at a very nascent stage, we introduce holistic therapies like aromatherapy, yoga and now dance therapy. Needless to say it’s working wonders.”

Inspired by the success, the authorities are planning to introduce the therapy for people with common ailments such as backache soon. As of now, the treatment is offered free of charge.

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