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Among the many health benefits and outcomes of art therapies for those who are physically disabled are improved balance and mobility, better gait, easier breathing, and less chronic pain and fear of falling.

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Visual Arts


Dance PD
Effect of Dance on Balance, Mobility and Activities of Daily Living in Adults with Cerebral Palsy

In 2021, researchers conducted a study aimed at examining the long-term effect of dance on improving balance and mobility in adults with Cerebral Palsy (CP). Their findings suggest that dance may have a positive impact in improving balance and mobility and may consequently contribute to healthy aging in adults with CP.

Online Dance Therapy for People with Parkinson’s Disease

Researchers in Australia conducted a study in 2021 to evaluate the feasibility and impact of online therapeutic dancing classes for people in the early to mid-stages of Parkinson’s Disease (PD). They found that online dance therapy was safe, feasible and perceived to be of benefit. They conclude that for the future, online dance may afford benefits to health, well-being and social engagement.

Effects of a 10-Week Multimodal Dance and Art Intervention Program Leading to a Public Performance in Persons with Multiple Sclerosis

A pilot study was conducted in 2020 to investigate the effects of a 10-week choreo-based dance intervention on different impairments of patients with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). The participants improved significantly on functional lower limb strength, hand function, coordination, self-reported balance and walking, and showed a trend towards improving cognition.

Effects of Contemporary Dance and Physiotherapy Intervention on Balance and Postural Control in Parkinson’s Disease

In 2020, researchers in Spain studied the effects of a contemporary dance program, combined with conventional physiotherapy on postural control in mild-moderate Parkinson’s Disease (PD) patients. After 8-weeks of contemporary dance program combined with physiotherapy, they found improvements in functional mobility and balance, with a high degree of satisfaction for the PD patients.

Targeted Ballet Program Mitigates Ataxia and Improves Balance in Females with Mild-to-Moderate Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

Researchers from several midwestern universities conducted a study in 2018 that examined a targeted ballet program (TBP) designed to mitigate ataxia and improve balance in females with mild-to-moderate relapsing-remitting MS. Improvements were observed, including smoothness of movement and balance in a step-to-stand task among the patients receiving the TBP which was well tolerated, improved balance and mitigated ataxia.


Music/Singing PD
An RCT Study Showing Few Weeks of Music Lessons Enhance Audio-Visual Temporal Processing

Researchers in 2022 attempted to determine whether music lessons could positively impact audio-visual temporal processing. Their results revealed that the music training group showed a significant improvement in detection of audio-visual temporal discrepancies compared to the other groups.

Role of Orff Music Therapy in Improving Auditory Processing Skills in Children with Intellectual Disability

In 2021, researchers in Nigeria examined the role of Orff Music Therapy in terms of auditory processing skills of children who have intellectual disabilities. Their results showed that after receiving the music therapy, there was an improvement in auditory processing skills.

ParkinSong: A Controlled Trial of Singing-Based Therapy for Parkinson’s Disease (PD)

A trial was conducted in 2019 to explore the effects of an interdisciplinary singing-based therapeutic intervention (ParkinSong) on voice and communication in people with PD. The results showed that ParkinSong intervention participants demonstrated significant improvements in vocal intensity, maximum expiratory pressure and voice-related quality of life.

Mental Singing Reduces Gait Variability More Than Music Listening for Healthy Older Adults and People with Parkinson’s Disease (PD)

In a 2019 study done by Dr. Elinor Harrison and others from the Departments of Neurology and Neuroscience at the Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, MO, they found that singing – either aloud or mentally – at different tempos could improve gait characteristics while reducing gait variability for older adults and people with PD.

The Effectiveness of Music Therapy for Individuals with Rett Syndrome and Their Families 

In 2019, researchers in Taiwan conducted a pilot study that investigated the effectiveness of music therapy on Rett syndrome (RTT) patients, as well as on parental stress for families of children with RTT. The results showed that music therapy improved receptive language, verbal and non-verbal communication skills, and social interaction for RTT patients. In addition, purposeful hand function, breathing patterns, and eye contact were significantly improved. Of note, music therapy also decreased the frequency of epileptic seizures. Lastly, caregivers in the study group exhibited significantly lower stress following the program.


Theater PD
Comparing the Effect of Social Media-Based Drama, Music and Art Therapies on Reduction in Post-Traumatic Symptoms Among Nigerian Refugees of Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine

A study released in 2023 examined the effectiveness of social media-based music, art and drama therapies in treating PTSD symptoms among Nigerian evacuees from the Russia-Ukraine War. Their results showed that although art, music and drama therapies are effective treatment options for reducing symptoms of PTSD among victims of war, drama therapy is the most effective among them all.

Effectiveness of Drama Therapy on Social Skills of Autistic Children

In 2021, Dr. Rahimi Pordanjani conducted a study aimed at determining the effectiveness of drama therapy on the social skills of children with high-functioning autism. Analysis of the results showed that the drama therapy was effective on the participants’ social skills in the experimental group.

Early Intervention for Children with Intellectual and Developmental Disability Using Drama Therapy Techniques

In 2020, researchers in China facilitated drama therapy sessions for homeless children aged 3-6 years old with mild to severe intellectual and developmental disabilities to examine its effectiveness. Their research findings indicated that the child participants with drama therapy maintained and in some cases increased their rate of communication and cooperation during intervention and afterwards.

Using an Inclusive Therapeutic Theater Production to Teach Self-Advocacy Skills in Young People with Disabilities

In 2020, Dr. Angelle Cook from Lesley University conducted a study utilizing an inclusive therapeutic theatre production for young people with disabilities, mental illness and medical condition to establish if involvement in the production could affect self-advocacy skills, specifically assertiveness. The participants scored significantly higher in the post-test (after the therapy) than in the pre-test for assertiveness.

Aphasia Park: A Pilot Study Using the Co-Active Therapeutic Theater Model with Clients in Aphasia Recovery

A group of researchers conducted a study in 2020 to analyze the perceived benefits of creating therapeutic theater opportunities with clients with aphasia. The results found five themes that participants noted as unique outcomes: 1) meaningful relationships; 2) increased belief in self; 3) invigorating experience; 4) unique healing opportunity; and 5) perceived speech and language improvement.

Visual Arts

Visual Arts PD
Art Therapy for Parkinson’s Disease

Researchers in 2021 conducted a study to explore the potential rehabilitative effect of art therapy on patients with Parkinson’s Disease. Following the art therapy intervention, patients improved on the Navon test, eye tracking and increased functional connectivity in brain regions.

Art Therapy Drawing Protocols for Chronic Pain

In 2021, researchers in California explored the effect of an arts drawing protocol for trauma on chronic pain reduction. Their study found significant improvements in ratings of pain, and in the frequency of experiencing pain, depression, fear, anger, and relationship problems.

The Effect of Mandala Colouring on Anxiety in Hospitalized COVID-19 Patients

Iranian researchers conducted a trial in 2021 to investigate the effect of mandala colouring on the anxiety of hospitalized COVID-19 patients. The results of the study showed that 30 minutes of mandala colouring daily is an effective strategy for reducing anxiety in COVID-19 patients during their stay in the hospital.

Creative Arts-Based Therapies for Stroke Survivors: A Qualitative Systematic Review

In a 2018 study, Temmy Lee Ting Lo from the University of Hong Kong found that creative arts-based therapies have demonstrated strengths in addressing psychosocial needs for stroke survivors. Based on the experiences of the stroke survivors, creative arts-based therapies demonstrate the potential to supplement existing stroke rehabilitation programs that primarily focus on functional recovery. Interventions that offer opportunities for the participants to experience different art modalities during the process may foster participation and enhance flexibility.

Effects of Mindfulness-Based Art Therapy on Psychological Symptoms in Patients with Coronary Artery Disease

In 2018, Korean researchers conducted a trial to determine whether mindfulness-based art therapy (MBAT) induces emotional relaxation in Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) patients. They concluded that MBAT can be seen as an effective treatment method that improves CAD patients’ psychological stability.

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