Ability Ballet

  • Children’s Cerebral Palsy Movement (CCPM) took part in a groundbreaking, community, multi-disciplinary, collaboration with the University of CA, Irvine’s Pediatric Exercise and Genomics Research Center, UCI’s Dance Department, and key orthopedic surgeons at CHOC Children’s Hospital of Orange County.
  • Guided by neuroscientific research, our team of physical therapists and dance teachers developed an innovative therapeutic dance intervention in the guise of a group ballet class for children ages 7-11 with CP. Our goal was to improve gait, balance, and overall quality of life using rigorous repetitive movements drawn from ballet and intellectually engaging activities, while accompanied by live music.
  • By using ballet as a modality, children with CP who want to dance experience the joy of dancing without realizing that it is designed to improve their functional capabilities. Also, ballet has been documented to show numerous benefits for the formation of new nerve connections in the brain that affect motor control and balance in dancers.38,39
  • More projects are planned to build on this one. We believe the work we have done will lead to far reaching changes in the way clinicians and communities treat people with CP throughout their lifespans.

Our Motivation:

  • Recent research shows that engaging in a highly motivating activity, with rigor and repetition, causes neurological changes (aka neuroplasticity) that enable subjects to acquire new function and compensate for impairments.
  • Many children with CP would love to dance, but don’t have the opportunity, due to their disability and lack of instructor training.
  • We are striving for more than an adaptive dance class. We are motivated to create a ballet class that stimulates neurological changes, where we can predict an increase in functional mobility, gait, and overall quality of life.

To learn more, see our presentation on current literature regarding “Neuroplasticity and Exercise in an Enriched Environment (PDF)
Works Cited (PDF)

We are motivated to support other innovative projects in the future and our proud that five scientific research papers will result from this important early work.  

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