Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

MS in Dance/Movement Therapy

First Advisor

Elise Risher


Physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R) is a field of medicine that addresses a variety of disorders impacting the brain, spinal cord, muscles, and bones. When approaching patient care, the goals of dance/movement therapists are similar to those of physiatrists, because both strive for a holistic approach to treatment that considers more than just physical ailments. Adding dance/movement therapy sessions in parallel with PM&R services would enhance the overall patient experience and quality of life. Previous studies that explore the use of dance/movement therapy with various neurodegenerative diseases, neuromuscular diseases, and sustained injuries are reviewed for potential application in PM&R settings. The benefits of dance/movement therapy for patient autonomy and body image are discussed, along with the inclusion of music and rhythm for emotional expression. This includes the delineation of prospective dance/movement therapy interventions and techniques for treating neurodegenerative diseases, neuromuscular diseases and sustained injuries in parallel with PM&R treatment. Future research should explore the quantitative impacts of dance/movement therapy on rehabilitation outcome measures, as well as the qualitative impacts of dance/movement therapy on patients’ mental and emotional welfare while undergoing PM&R treatment. The tailored integration of emotional, social, and cognitive therapeutic interventions directly alongside physical rehabilitation supports the healing process from multiple angles, which can promote better patient outcomes and satisfaction. Overall, physiatry and dance/movement therapy have separately helped so many people but developing a synergy between these fields has the potential to transform rehabilitative medicine.