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30 Robert WoodJohnson
She had seen firsthand a family member's struggles with
addiction and became interested in substance abuse issues--
particularly the "harm reduction" treatment concept that can
apply to anyone, regardless of his or her commitment to ab-
stinence. The SAF position at the medical school, with its dual
roles of support for individuals with substance abuse and other
impairment issues and promotion of wellness and mental
health, provided the ideal opportunity to blend her two inter-
ests and to explore arts-based approaches to wellness promo-
tion, she says.
"We are trying to create spaces where people can be heard.
There are a lot of ways people can express themselves
through the arts," Dr. Lee explains.
During the past year, those opportunities have
arisen through collaborative programming co-
sponsored by the Department of Dance at Rutgers'
Mason Gross School of the Arts.
A Collaborative Relationship Develops
he seeds of the collaboration were sown
serendipitously during Dr. Lee's last few weeks
living in Chicago. While there, she worked at Marwen,
a nonprofit arts organization that provides free visual
arts instruction to underserved youths in grades 612.
Cynthia Weiss, Marwen's director of education, knew Julia
Ritter--chair and artistic director of the dance department at
Mason Gross--and, understanding Dr. Lee's interest in com-
bining arts and health care, suggested she reach out when she
joined the medical school faculty. Dr. Lee acted on that sug-
gestion and developed a natural rapport with the dance
department, which resulted in two programs that are just the
beginning of a collaborative effort between the two schools.
The first program, a Spring 2014 workshop titled
"Promote Spinal Health with Your Patients by Relieving
Stress through Movement," addressed a range of factors
influencing spinal health, including social and psychological
factors, as well as strength, balance, and stability. Led by
dancer and movement educator Eric Franklin, founder of the
international Franklin Method, the workshop took a practi-
cal approach to incorporating daily movement and exercise
to benefit spinal health.
In October, Dr. Lee and Ritter collaborated on a compre-
hensive program focusing on the use of dance and movement
techniques in dealing with Parkinson's disease. Titled
"Parkinson's and Dance: Moving Theory and Practice
Forward," the two-day initiative, aimed at patients and fam-
ilies, as well as students and practitioners, featured a host of
experts from different areas of expertise, including James M.
Tepper, PhD, distinguished professor of neuroscience,
Rutgers Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience,
whose research has provided insight into the molecular
implications of Parkinson's; Pamela Quinn, a professional
dancer who developed a renowned movement therapy pro-
gram for individuals with Parkinson's; David Leventhal, pro-
gram director and one of the founding teachers of the Mark
Morris Dance Group's Dance for PD program, a collabora-
tion with the Brooklyn Parkinson Group; and guest lecturers
from the medical community.
The multifaceted approach was key to providing a pro-
gram that could benefit a multitude of audi-
ences, from the patients themselves to the
caregivers and practitioners helping them,
Ritter says. Individuals with Parkinson's were
provided with hands-on movement techniques. A
workshop geared to caregivers focused on the types
of activities that could be used to help keep individ-
uals with Parkinson's well--and provide added
benefits for their roles as caregivers.
"The practices in moving a body are easier
when you can prompt that body with language, so
you can be able to talk to somebody about their center of
gravity when you're going to move them, or talk to them
about how they are going to place their weight if you are try-
ing to move someone's body who's bigger than yours," Ritter
explains. "These are all helpful skills and could prevent care-
givers from getting injured."
Practitioners and Medical Students
Reap the Benefits
n added goal was to introduce practitioners to the
fact that dance and movement therapy are having an
impact on the physicality and emotional health and well-
being of people who are living with Parkinson's, says Ritter:
"It's important, whether they're physical therapists, doctors,
occupational therapists, or nurses, for them to hear the inter-
section of discourse that goes on between the medical side,
the research side, and the dance side, and also to hear the tes-
timonials of the people with Parkinson's who can speak to
the impact of movement practices on their Parkinson's."
To Dr. Lee, the movement-based programs also offer
health and wellness benefits to students, particularly in an
age of increasingly sedentary lifestyles. In addition, they can