Dancer-turned-doctor starts classes for Parkinson's patients

October 18, 2012 (CHICAGO)

Dance is a wonderful way to train movements in people with disabilities. Dr. Citlali Lopez-Ortiz said she has seen some remarkable outcome among her students..

Twice a week at Joffrey's dance studio, students work on different movements.

"We can target specific aspects of movement disability, not only dividation of joint movements but coordination of the whole body," Lopez-Ortiz said. "We have music that also impacts movement coordination as far as we know from scientific literature, and it's expressive art. So it's a very integrative way to train and improve health condition overall."

Dr. Lopez-Ortiz is a ballerina with a Ph.D. in kinesiology.

"Ballet trains two very important things. One is balance and the other one is what we call selective motor control," Lopez-Ortiz said.

Two years ago, Katrina Kelley started attending class.

"My balance is so much better, agility, strength even mental happiness or depressive is addressed because the endorphins really shoot up when I dance," she said.

"If your balance is not there, if you're not stacked up properly, you can start to shuffle and lean forward and hands start tensing up," Lopez-Ortiz said.

Mark Pinsky has been coming for almost four months.

"I feel my body is much looser after class," he said. "I get out there, start moving around and also quantitatively measures, by our assistant Gwen, she measures our rate of running and jumping before the class and then after the class, and she finds some really quite striking conclusions."

"It's fascinating because I see that people enjoy it, because I see how people progress. I see the light and life come back on their faces when they're in their class," said Lopez-Ortiz.

Four-week sessions cost $240. Dr. Lopez-Ortiz also offers classes for children with cerebral palsy in Evanston.

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