Improvment: Improvisational Movement For Brain and Body Health

Improvment: Improvisational Movement For Brain and Body Health

Flag Hall Stage




Wake Forest University


Researchers: Christina Hugenschmidt, Christina Soriano, Alice Romanov, Kamryn King, Jim Nottke, and Betsy Nottke

This project is a partnership between Wake Forest associate professor of dance Christina Soriano, who developed a movement intervention for older adults, and Wake Forest School of Medicine neuroscientist Dr. Christina Hugenschmidt. It combines art and science to address symptoms of dementia, a relatively common and devastating disease of aging.

This work has engaged the community, provided cross-disciplinary training for
undergraduates applying to medical and physical therapy programs, and has resulted in submission of a National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant for a randomized clinical trial. Secondary symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, including apathy, depression, and changes in gait and balance, significantly increase caregiver burden and medical costs for both the person with dementia and their caregivers. Soriano’s dance method, IMPROVment, is an arts-based activity that has demonstrated improvements in quality of life, decreased symptoms of depression, and improved balance. Together Soriano and Hugenschmidt present an interactive demonstration that includes opportunities to participate in the movement intervention, view video documentation, and be presented with pilot data showing that dance, a non-pharmacologic arts-based intervention, can improve quality of life, decrease secondary symptoms of dementia, and improve brain network connectivity in older adults with dementia.