Feasibility, acceptability and effects of dance therapy in stroke patients: A systematic review

Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2022 Nov:49:101662. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2022.101662. Epub 2022 Aug 28.


Introduction: Stroke is the leading cause of non-traumatic disability in adults, with balance and gait disturbances representing the main limitations of body functions. Dance therapy (DT) has shown positive effects in older adults and in patients with neurological pathologies. This systematic review aims to examine the feasibility, acceptability and effects of DT in stroke rehabilitation, specifically on functional gains of gait and balance.

Methods: A systematic search was carried out for articles published in the MEDLINE, PEDro, Web of Science, Scopus and CINHAL in February 2021 and updated in April 2021.

Results: Eight studies were included (2 clinical cases, 5 case series and 1 randomized controlled trial), 7 of them in patients with chronic stroke and only 1 in subacute stroke phase. The most widely used dance modality was tango and ballet, with sessions ranging from 30 to 110 min. DT seems to show positive effects on post-stroke body functions and activities such as gait and balance. Reported dropout rates are inconsistent, no adverse effects were reported, and participant satisfaction was high.

Conclusion: Given the heterogeneity and uneven quality of the included studies, strong conclusions cannot be put forward on the effectiveness of DT in post-stroke body function and activities. Nevertheless, DT seems to be safe and acceptable therapy for patients, and no adverse effects have been reported. More studies with a high level of evidence and feasibility are needed to determine the patient profile, the characteristics of the intervention, the participation rate and the role of the rehabilitation professional most likely to generate optimal benefit.

Keywords: Complementary therapies; Dance therapy; Gait Disorders, Neurologic; Postural balance; Stroke rehabilitation.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Dance Therapy*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Gait
  • Humans
  • Postural Balance
  • Stroke Rehabilitation*
  • Stroke* / therapy