Dina Brooks, PhD

Dina Brooks, PhD

Dancing with COPD

Dina Brooks, PhD has an invitation for COPD patients. “Let's Boogie!”

A professor of physical therapy at the University of Toronto and the recipient of numerous honours for her work in pulmonary rehabilitation, Dr. Brooks is exploring the ways rehabilitation helps those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). In the past five years, she has led six major projects that were funded in part by The Lung Association.

She is passionate about helping those with lung disease and finds this area gets little attention in rehabilitation, compared to sore knees and backs. “The breathlessness of COPD is debilitating and difficult,” she says. “And yet I’ve seen first-hand what a difference rehabilitation can make to quality of life.”

Building on her past work, Dr. Brooks is now studying how dance might help people with COPD. Let’s Boogie was born out of her knowledge of how effective rehabilitation can be, and trying to come up with ways to maintain the benefits. It is based on a couple of simple insights: fun is better than not fun, and dancing is fun. The program is more than exercise—it builds connection and social interaction.

Twice a week for 10 weeks, participants gather for an hour with a professional dance instructor to move and learn. Volunteer teachers and aides assist, to allow those with severe limitations to participate fully.

Dr. Brooks will collect data to determine if the program is feasible and if it is helping participants. Has their balance improved? Is dance as beneficial as other exercise for the heart? Has breathlessness diminished? If the results are positive, she would like to conduct randomized control trials to do more extensive testing.

Knowing that lung research in Canada is severely underfunded compared to the burden of lung disease, Dr. Brooks particularly acknowledges the critical importance of Lung Association funding. “It is making a difference every day in the lives of people with lung disease.”