22 May 2019

Tango helps cancer patients get back on their feet

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While many people turn to dancing to stay fit and lose weight, a new study suggests swaying to the beat may also offer therapeutic benefits. Researchers at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center have taken the results a step further by teaching the tango to cancer patients.

Tim Hickey, a cancer survivor who suffered nerve damage in his legs and feet as a result of chemotherapy for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, could hardly walk before being introduced to the tango.

“The only thing I could feel in my feet was the balls,” Hickey told. “I couldn’t feel the toes, couldn’t feel the heels.”

Hickey isn’t alone. Nearly 70 percent of patients suffer from nerve damage in their hands and feet after only one month of chemotherapy. Six months post-treatment, one in three of these patients still experience adverse symptoms.

OSU researchers turned to Mimi Lamantia, a student double-majoring in premed and dance, to come up with a way to help cancer patients struggling with balance. Together, they zeroed in on the tango.

“Even [with] just five weeks of Argentine tango we were able to decrease that medial and lateral sway by 56 percent,” Lamantia told.

Many cancer patients may also suffer muscle loss, which the tango can also help to rebuild.

“The improvement was remarkable,” Hickey said. “And I don’t think we would have improved nearly that quickly without it.”

2016.09.04 / 17:30
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