Cardea Fellow and senior Miurel Price is studying how dance therapy can improve the health of elderly populations.

Price is a Program II major studying artistic holistic therapies and their contribution to healthcare, with a specific focus on dance therapy. Holistic therapies are forms of alternative medicine that focus on healing the whole person—including their psychological, physical and social needs—rather than a specific disease or issue.

The Fayetteville, North Carolina native began working with Grace Healthcare of Durham, a local nursing home, to fulfill a service-learning requirement for a class called aging and health with Deborah Gold, associate professor of medical sociology.

“Sometimes it seems like [the nursing home residents’] autonomy is taken away,” Price said. “I’m excited for them to create their own work and to be in charge of something that is theirs and show them that the opportunities that are possible to feel like you have some type of control over your body and your feelings.”

Currently Price is conducting research for her senior thesis on how different healing therapies, such as dance, art or drumming therapy, interest the nursing home residents and make the largest impact on their health. She will collaborate with people who currently work in the nursing home providing music and physical therapy, and is working under the guidance of Ava LaVonne Vinesett, associate professor of the practice of dance.

“I felt really connected with the residents there and I'm really into healing the body naturally and ways you can manipulate the body to bring about healing from within,” Price said. “I wanted to give back in a personal way.”

She is currently undergoing the Institutional Review Board process and will begin working in the nursing home again in the fall. Until then, she will peruse journal articles and previous research to determine which dance therapy methods people have used effectively in the past.

Price is a member of United in Praise, a student choir group. She said she will take a year off before applying to medical school, and hopes to become a holistic physician. She said she may continue working on her project during her gap year.