Academic journal article Journal of Physical Education and Sport

The Effect of a Combined Training Program with Greek Dances and Pilates on the Balance of Blind Children

Academic journal article Journal of Physical Education and Sport

The Effect of a Combined Training Program with Greek Dances and Pilates on the Balance of Blind Children

Article excerpt

Introduction

Professional athletes must continually seek physical, technical, tactical and psychological excellence. They Vision plays a major role in both the maintenance of balance and its recovery. Visual impairment can affect the equilibrium of proprioceptive systems, resulting in problems with balance, posture, coordination, tension of the neck and shoulder muscles, and loss of spinal rotation and reciprocal arm swing (38). Individuals with vision loss have decreased postural stability. Therefore they are unable to compensate for restricted visual input to maintain postural stability (36), which in turn affects their ability to balance and increases the likelihood of falling (34). Postural control and balance involve controlling the position of the body in space for stability and orientation (41). Visually impaired persons need these basic motor skills in straight-line walking and for detecting veering (47). Poor balance results in problems with straight walking and control of turns, thus making independent navigation difficult (44).

Balance improvement is considered to be most important because its acquisition even at a minimal level provides the opportunity to walk, run, and jump in various ways, whereas individuals with good balance can turn their attention while participating to more complex and demanding activities (18). Balance improvement can be achieved through activities like Pilates and dance which can also be used to develop flexibility, focus, and facilitate movement, as well as to help the child gain confidence and develop skills (14).

On one side, the Pilates method of exercise is a contemporary, anatomically-based approach which caters to people of all ages, all body types, and all fitness abilities (10), and may contribute to improved performance in balance tests (19). Pilates based training has become popular among a wide variety of athletes and people seeking fitness and rehabilitation (21) and can be easily integrated into traditional resistance and balance training programs. Pilates training contains muscle strengthening, lengthening and breathing to develop trunk muscles and restore muscle balance (2). Moreover, Pilates can improve fitness parameters, as well as physical abilities such as flexibility, proprioception, balance and coordination (42). In addition, Pilates based training found to have positive effects on balance in healthy adults (16), as well as in an elderly population (11).

On the other side, attending dance movement sessions can have numerous benefits to the visually impaired children on many different levels. They learn to become members of a group and to express their feelings and emotions physically in a non-aggressive manner. Familiarity with their bodies is increased and they learn to use them creatively. Physical flexibility, co-ordination and cardiovascular fitness improve. It is sometimes referred to as an art sport because it combines gymnastic and poetic qualities, or as a healing art because it promotes physical and mental well-being (3). Clearly, dance provides the opportunity to explore, create, discover, and enjoy and is recognized not only as a supportive means of the learning process but also as a tool that contributes to the self-respect of each individual (15). Dance and creative dance, with its heavy emphasis on static and dynamic balance, affects motor performance and self-concept. As for balance, dance influences static and dynamic balance to a great extent and is consequently considered as the ideal physical activity for children (23, 28), for older people (9, 27, 29), for persons with balance, and/or kinaesthetic problems (31), for individuals with mental retardation (46), for hearing impaired persons (37), and for those with visual impairments (22).

However, on reviewing the literature, it seems that there is a lack of research efforts noted regarding the effectiveness of a combination of traditional dance and Pilates on improving static and dynamic balance of individuals with vision loss, and especially of children. …

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