The life of "strokes" is most often turned upside down. Patients struggling to understand and organize their existence after a stroke often have to deal with many social, marital, spiritual and professional problems.

Similar challenges arise for members of the patient's family who become their carers and try to provide a source of income for them. In turn, their health is often negatively affected by a loved one's stroke. The support of these carers is therefore also crucial in the whole process.

Choreotherapy is defined in Poland as a set of activities at three levels - dance therapy, dance psychotherapy and therapeutic dance. It is one of the ways to achieve fitness after strokes. For a patient after a stroke, the awareness of being a disabled person and accepting a new situation for him often exceeds his imagination. Suicidal thoughts, self-destruction symptoms appear, and low self-esteem often leads to depression.

Choreotherapy improves lost mobility, which is the most common impairment after a stroke. Movement in accordance with the rhythm improves breathing and blood circulation, which in turn helps the weaker side of the body gradually regain sensation. The patient through his systematic work becomes more and more efficient in his life. This, in turn, maintains his enthusiasm for participation in subsequent therapeutic exercises.

Men who are aware of their disability often fall into depression and depression, low self-esteem and lack of self-confidence. Dance helps them regain their strength. It gives the feeling that they are needed by themselves and others.

Dance defines the specific role of a man in his relationship with a woman, his decision-making and responsibility. Dance therapy helps a man rediscover and define his masculinity.

Women after stroke often have a sense of loss of their attractiveness and femininity. They can also underestimate the first symptoms of stroke. Dance strengthens their self-confidence and self-esteem, restores the body's natural expression and increases self-confidence. It is sometimes a long and tedious process, but it gives unusual psychophysical effects.

Spasticity is a common effect of a stroke. It is a condition where some muscles are constantly contracted. This contraction causes muscle stiffness or tightness and can interfere with normal movement, speech, and gait. Spasticity is usually caused by damage to the part of the brain or spinal cord that controls voluntary movement. The damage causes a change in the balance of signals between the nervous system and muscles. This imbalance leads to increased muscle activity. Spasticity negatively affects the muscles and joints of the limbs.

I have been dancing for over 20 years. My trainees are stroke patients. I see their great joy with every step made to the rhythm of the music. This incredibly gives them wings and confirms their belief that this effort makes sense. And that their huge psycho-physical work is worth it because it gives measurable effects.

The joy of every correctly performed step can cause at most astonishment in a healthy person, but for a "striker" it is often a milestone in achieving fitness. This is "to be or not to be" at the next therapeutic session.

Elements of my work are:

  • coaching work that helps restore self-acceptance and self-esteem
  • development exercises based on the patient's strengths, e.g. based on The Bridge personality test
  • static and dynamic exercises obliging the patient to build the habit of correct body posture
  • isolation exercises that activate one dominant body part, e.g. knees, arms, etc.
  • upper and lower body coordination exercises
  • rhythm exercises such as clapping, stamping out to emphasize the rhythm in music for motor-auditory coordination
  • exercises with a partner in dance holding to relieve the symptoms of spasticity

SUMMARIZING. The work of a choreotherapist does not replace the work of a physiotherapist, but is an extraordinary complement to his activities and pharmacological treatment. The biggest advantage of choreotherapy is comprehensiveness - from improving mobility to raising self-esteem to the level of positive perception of yourself and your life.


Author: Tomasz Rachwalski

The article was prepared as part of the ProBio Małopolska project