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Parkinson’s Disease & Art

Arts for Health artist Áine Rose Connell explores the connections and lines of thought between art, communication and health. Informed by this and her work as a speech and language therapist, Áine is embarking on an exciting research project into Art and Parkinson’s disease, funded by both the HSE and Arts Council this year.

While working clinically alongside clients using Teleatherapy, a digitalised speech & language therapy service for people with Parkinson’s disease to use at-home; Áine began researching art practices and methodologies specifically for this cohort of people. While research into this area tends to be more readily available in the UK and in Europe, Áine is interested in developing better resources and tools within the Irish context for people with Parkinson’s disease and artists alike, currently focused within the rural context in West Cork, Ireland. 

Áine’s research takes an experimental, action-based approach which sees her collaborating with people and artists with Parkinson’s disease, developing shared understandings and using research theory to inform practical activities and methodologies. Her research will also include a nine week Arts for Health placement in Dunmanway Community Hospital this Winter, where artistic collaboration between participants, staff and families will occur. Throughout these sessions, the residents will explore a range of art mediums, from clay to portraiture painting, with occasional foray into poetry, sound and song. Áine brings her understanding of communication and conversation enhancement to augment art sessions with participants, where experimentation and play help facilitate social cohesion, social interaction and wellbeing. This placement will form the basis of her preliminary research. 

Áine plans to finalise her research into two formats. The first will be a creative audio-visual resource tool created by participants, staff and care-partners in the community hospital, outlining key aspects of the research, which will be shared with the wider arts and health community. The second, a peer-reviewed research article that hopes to contribute to the AfH literature on Parkinson’s disease and art practices within the Irish and rural context. Outcomes of both aim to highlight the voice of the person with Parkinson’s disease at the forefront, as well as voices from care partners, families and staff. Both will be a suitable resource for the local and wider artistic community to use.

We look forward to seeing the results of her hard work!