Arts Based Translation of Health Research / Application par les arts de la recherche en santé

By day David Phipps (@researchimpact ; @mobilemobilizer) is a knowledge mobilization professional. In the evenings and weekends David is a student in the adult program of Canada’s National Ballet School (@DavidBallet). On April 20, those two identities collided when Canada’s National Ballet School (NBS) hosted a knowledge translation workshop http://www.nbs-enb.ca/Sharing-Dance/Sharing-Dance-Programs/Dance-Classes-for-People-with-Parkinson-s/Translating-Knowledge-Into-Action focused on Dance for Parkinson’s Disease.

Le jour, David Phipps (@researchimpact ; @mobilemobilizer) est un professionnel de la mobilisation des connaissances. Le soir et les weekends, David est inscrit au programme pour adultes de l’ÉNB, l’École nationale de ballet du Canada (@DavidBallet). Ces deux identités se sont télescopées le 20 avril, jour où l’ÉNB accueillait un atelier d’application des connaissances, dans son volet Dansons ensemble pour les ainés atteints de Parkinson.

Many of us have used arts based methods for knowledge translation. At the KMb Unit at York Univeristy, we have supported theatre and poetry. The KT Core of Kids Brian Health Network (hosted at KMb York) has supported theatre – check out the short video of a play called Jacob’s Story about FASD. But we have never worked with dance as a KT method. That’s one reason the event about KT and Dance for Parkinson’s was so interesting to me.

April 20, 2017 was the launch of the Dance for Parkinson’s Network Canada. The launch coincided with a workshop presenting research from Rachel Bar, a graduate of the National Ballet School and a PhD student at Ryerson University, researching the health benefits of dance for people living with Parkinson’s Disease (PD). Rachel has combined those two identities as the Manager, Health and Research Initiatives for NBS. The workshop featured very accessible posters describing work to date and some implications of the work for stakeholders (see below). We also did a dance class with dancers from the NBS Parkinson’s program. This class was led by David Leventhal, co-Founder of Dance for PD® and a former dancer with the Mark Morris dance group in New York. We danced seated in a chair, accompanied by live piano. What made it dance and not just movement to music was the imagery David used as we were dancing whether it was running our hand across water, mimicking rain fall, swinging a baseball bat or waving at someone every movement was an image.

Dance for Parkinsons

Next, Rachel moderated a panel discussion with a David Leventhala clinical neurologist, a dancer from the Parkinson’s program and a researcher (Joe DeSouza, York University). The panel was an example of KT in action when lived experience is joined with research and clinical practice. This was backed by some of Rachel’s work showing the literature underpinning the effects of dance in PD which included original peer reviewed papers, randomized controlled trials and literature reviews.

Rachel also presented implications for stakeholders including patients, family members, clinicians and researchers. And here’s where I hope to help. I observed to Rachel and to NBS that there are policy implications of this research including ministries of health, seniors and heritage. Dipikia Damerla (@DipikaDamerla), Ontario Minister for Seniors Affairs, provided remarks at the event so there is already a doorway into provincial policy makers. Joe DeSouza is one of York’s researchers. I am dancing at NBS. I hope to join my profession and my passion by exploring how I can help bring this important research and amazing PD program to the attention of the right policy makers. I hope to help Rachel as well as her research and dance colleagues to engage in good KT planning to identify goals, partners, activities and evaluation of their KT plan. For more on how we support KT planning at KMb York and Kids Brain Health Network see our recent paper about KT planning in grant applications.

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