Patients in Weymouth take to tango to aid their recovery from surgery

20th July 2018

It’s a case of grabbing a partner and putting your best foot forward for people recovering from surgery in the Weymouth area, where dance classes are helping them bounce back to full fitness.

The Confidence of Tango initiative is the brainchild of Dorset HealthCare Occupational Therapist Jackie Powell, who is based in the town.

Looking for new ways to help her patients recover from operations which affect their mobility, she decided to combine her day job with her love for the popular South American dance.

“I’m extremely passionate about occupational therapy and run evening tango classes in my spare time. I noticed a lot of the moves associated with the dance were similar to those we instruct our patients to do” said Jackie.

“A lot of the people I see have mobility issues after undergoing various operations on things like hips and knees. Tango gets them moving around and improves posture and balance.”

Jackie holds the weekly two-hour classes in six-week blocks at the town’s Safewise community centre on Radipole Lane, and welcomes people of all abilities and ages. They can be referred by their GP or simply request to attend based on their medical history.

“The beauty of the classes is that we can adapt each one to suit the individual, and people can do as much or as little as they want. Many often forget its part of their rehab, as they have so much fun, and they’re also learning a new skill,” she added.

The initiative is another success story from the Trust’s Dragons' Den competition, where staff are encouraged to pitch innovative ideas for improving patient care.

Based on the same format as the hit TV series, the ideas are presented to a panel of ‘dragons,’ made up of clinical and non-clinical staff, and the winners awarded funding to bring them to life.

The Confidence of Tango was made possible with a grant of £3,500.

Gerald Napper, from Crossways near Dorchester, has been attending the classes with his wife Wendy, and has branded them ‘heaven sent’.

“I used to do a lot of ballroom dancing, and it’s great to pull the dancing shoes on again. I had a growth on my spinal cord which has affected my balance, but this is helping transform my life,” he said.

“It’s a really fun way to exercise and I’m noticing improvements each week and feeling much more agile. I’ve also met some lovely people.”

Phillis Snowden, also from Crossways, said: “You often forget you’re exercising!

“I had a hip replacement a few months ago and, although I can’t walk or cycle as much as I’d like, this class is brilliant and means I can strengthen my hip without overdoing it.”

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