Flamenco dance offers unique form of healing for stroke patients

Jan 15, 2020 | Katherine Kough | @kitkough

Using Flamenco to focus not on what patients can't do, but what they can create together.

Therapeutic Movement on ABC15

The Center for Humanities in Medicine's Therapeutic Movement program, developed with Mayo Clinic Recreation Therapy and Phoenix-based artists from Flamenco Por La Vida, was featured on ABC15.

excerpt below; the transcript and video from the January 14th newscast can be found on ABC15's website


"[The program] helps with their coordination, it helps with their habitual and non-habitual movement, and also with their fine motor skills," said Flamenco instructor Olivia Rojas. Rojas says the movement and short routines also help patients regain strength, memory function and mobility.

Beyond the physical benefits, there's also a social and emotional transformation. At the heart of Flamenco is community -- everyone contributes either with singing, dancing or creating the rhythm.

"They start relying on each other just a little bit more to help them with their healing," said Rojas.

"With a defective side, if they had a stroke and they're able to move it, they're exercising and doing those things that the therapists are working on and they don't even realize they're doing it," said Recreation Therapist Carol Graziano. "I think that's the magic of the program. It's something fun and takes their mind away from their illness."

Bonnie Crosby is a former professional dancer but a stroke stole much of her mobility. She says the Flamenco therapy offers her a new challenge to focus on and even the music helps her at least visualize movement that her body may not be able to do yet.

"The singing and the dancing and the arm movements just give you more of an impetus to get well soon. I just think they complement one another," Crosby said. "We heal, I believe, more quickly."


Therapeutic Movement takes place weekly at Mayo Clinic Hospital in Phoenix, Arizona.

Interested in more newsfeed posts like this? Go to the Center for Humanities in Medicine blog.

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