Specialist 'dance and health' therapy for stroke patients to be showcased

Specialist 'dance and health' therapy for stroke patients to be showcased

A project which sees stroke patients offered weekly dance and movement sessions as part of their rehabilitation delivered by staff and students from the University of Cumbria is being showcased at a prestigious London arts event.

‘About Being’ is a programme that is run in partnership with North Cumbria Hospitals NHS Trust (NCUH) and the ‘Dance and Health’ project. Patients are offered weekly dance and movement sessions, starting in the hospital then feeding into the community with community sessions hosted at the University of Cumbria.

The aims of the sessions are to support participants to re-discover their autonomy through movement and creative exploration and support physical and mental health and wellbeing. The project also offers an opportunity for University of Cumbria dance and occupational therapy students to experience work in the dance and health sector by training and volunteering for the sessions. 

Representatives from NCUH and the University of Cumbria will be presenting ‘About Being’ at Aesop’s Arts in Health Conference on Thursday 19 April in London. The conference, which attracts speakers such as Dame Darcey Bussell, focuses on how the arts are contributing to current health priorities by reducing demands on the health system. It also looks to address mental health, supporting an ageing population and tackling health inequalities. The project will be one of 24 showcased on the day.

People who participate in ‘About Being’ are stroke survivors who’ve recently been discharged (within three months) and are undergoing transition back into the community. Care givers and family members are invited to join the sessions as well as participants, so the sessions are an opportunity to leave 'caring duties' at home.    

Working closely with the ‘Dance and Health’ project at the University of Cumbria, Susie Tate arts co-ordinator at NCUH delivered a two-day introductory seminar to BA Hons Dance and MSc Occupational Therapy students to help them to understand the project and how to support participants within each session. From this three students were taken on as ‘Dance Supporters’.

Susie Tate, arts co-ordinator at NCUH, said: “The aim of the movement sessions were to facilitate increased range and ability of movement. The intention is to invite patients into a movement practice that they can access at the level most appropriate to themselves.  Supported by music we would focus on the positive potential of how each person could move: following breath, tracing melody with fingers, improvising and creating, all supporting capacity to experience more.”

Susie Wilson, senior lecturer in occupational therapy, programme lead MSc occupational therapy said: “This dance and movement group is an excellent example of local partnership working between the arts, health and education to look at new ways of supporting peoples recovery and rehabilitation after stroke.  We are delighted to be part of the project team.”