What do stroke survivors and dancers have in common?
Watching the graceful way a dancer moves a across a stage and a stroke survivor trying to move or walk, it may not appear at first glance that they could share anything in common. However both groups are constantly trying to refine their movements to make them more fluid and efficient and so technology used by contempory dancers could be used to assist someone, following a stroke, to improve their movement.
The technology was originally created for the Australian Dance Theatre’s world-renowned 2012 performance Proximity, directed by Garry Stewart. Amongst its many visual effects is a programme that takes a number of still photos and shows them all in one picture, this shows not only the range the limb is moved in but also the timing, therefore giving real time feedback on symmetry between the affected and unaffected limbs. This allows the client to visualise where their movements are abnormal and how to rectify them. So far in trials participants have stated that although they had had feedback on their abnormal movement patterns actually seeing it allowed them to more effectively modify the movements.
Early research is currently being carried out by neuroscientist, Associate Professor Susan Hillier from the University of South Australia. In an interview with ABC news, Professor Hillier said,“In the past, in my research, we’ve actually taken vision out of the picture, we’ve literally had people shut their eyes to concentrate on their body sense, and so this is now doing the complete opposite,” she said.
The early signs are good for Associate Professor Hillier and show that she might finally be on the right path.
“So I’m quietly excited about that… it’s kind of me acknowledging that we need to actually drop back and use vision instead of what I’ve been doing, which is ignoring it,” she said.