With support from PAHO/WHO, the National Rehabilitation Service will carry out a study to determine the health benefits for older adults of the Tangolates method created by Tamara Di Tella.
The National Rehabilitation Service, an agency of the Ministry of Health of Argentina, with support from the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), has initiated a research project to understand the effects of the Tangolates method on the health of older adults.
The research will involve a sample of approximately 100 people and will be completed toward the end of 2012. It will study the effects on the functionality profile (range of mobility, strength, and walking patterns), but also aims to understand the impact of the method on patients’ social rehabilitation.
Since 2004, a room donated by businesswoman Tamara Di Tella at the Clinical Hospital in Buenos Aires has been used by patients with Parkinson’s disease, as diagnosed by their neurologists, to practice Tangolates. The method created by Di Tella combines tango steps with the Pilates method.
“I realized that the rhythm, more than the music, helps the movement of the human body tremendously, which is why I decided to use the renowned tango composition Cumparsita , which has a rhythm that is strong and defined. That allows the patients to initiate the movement and to continue the exercises,” Di Tella said. “Furthermore, it was easier for the patients to move when they worked in pairs, copying the instructor, and with the music.”
Marina Pera, who runs the Tangolates room at the hospital, explained that “the idea is that patients can add physical activity to therapeutic activities as a part of treatment.” According to Pera, some 1,000 patients have participated since the room opened. “Parkinson’s is a degenerative disease that does not make it possible for the patient to be in treatment for a long time, but during the time when they are in treatment and can handle the physical activity, the patients note improvements in motor functions, and this helps them mitigate the symptoms of the disease such as rigidity and loss of strength.”
In order to scientifically determine the effects of the technique, an interdisciplinary team from the National Rehabilitation Service is working on preparing a research protocol.
“We cannot question that just as therapy with water and with pets often has a great effect on the sequela of persons with disabilities, in this case music also can have such an effect. Hence we are working on a research protocol in order to understand the effects, because until we have established its effects scientifically, it has to be considered a support therapy,” said Grisel Roulet, Director of the National Rehabilitation Service.
In this regard, kinesiologist Juan Boasso, a member of the research team, agreed that “we know initially that the activities generate improvements in the social realm and in daily life, but the point is to see in how much they improve, and to generate a protocol from which a series of exercises with clear objectives take us to those results always, not sometimes.”
Worldwide, there are 1 billion people who they have some type of disability and 200 million with serious problems of functionality. Pier Paolo Balladelli, PAHO/WHO Representative in Argentina, pointed out that the Organization “wants to help these people improve their dignity through evidence-based, integrated care, and this research can help provide the evidence” to help improve their health and quality of life.
PAHO, which celebrates its 110th anniversary this year, is the oldest public health organization in the world. It works with its member countries to improve the health and the quality of life of the people of the Americas. It also serves as the Regional Office for the Americas of WHO.