25 April 2021

Physio performs tap dance with 95-year-old patient recovering from broken hip

25 April 2021

A physiotherapist who learned to tap dance to help the recovery of a 95-year-old patient has been praised for giving her back “her joy of dance and life”.

Sean Lissner has been helping Dorothy in her recovery over the last year after she broke her hip, and he discovered during their sessions in Los Angeles that she used to be a choreographer and dance teacher.

The 28-year-old asked her to teach him some steps and, over the course of around four months, she choreographed and taught him a tap routine.

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He told the PA news agency: “She always says this: ‘Shaun, who’d have ever thought that your physical therapist would end up dancing with a patient, especially me because I’m 95 years old?’

“And she ended up loving it.”

Mr Lissner posted a video on YouTube of him dancing with Dorothy, describing her as his “best friend”.

Dorothy said in the video: “We’re a very good pair because he loves to dance and I’ve danced all my life and so I have a lot of steps to give to him.”

They are then seen dancing a tap routine to the song Tea For Two while holding hands.

Dorothy’s daughter, actress Annette O’Toole, reposted the video to Twitter, writing: “I am proud to say that this is my mother & her angelic physical therapist Sean Lissner, who has given her back her joy of dance & life.”

Mr Lissner said incorporating the dance moves into therapy sessions helped Dorothy improve her balance, strength and agility, and that “her eyes lit up” when he asked her to teach him.

“She showed me how to shuffle ball change, like a classic tap dance move, one of the foundational steps,” he told PA.

“And from then on, every session we would dance a little more, a little more and a little more, and then eventually it became a thing.”

He described Dorothy as “a sweetheart”, adding: “She’s very sharp, like that whole dance that we did, she arranged all of that, she choreographed the whole thing, she taught me how to dance and she’s 95 – so she’s very sharp.”

Her task was made all the more challenging because Mr Lissner has very little experience of dance.

“I know how to two-step, I guess I know how to waltz and I know how to have some sort of rhythm at the club or disco, but other than that I’ve never danced in my life,” he said.

“She’s an amazing teacher and she’s very patient, which is what I love about her.”

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