ProMedica Leads National Nia Study With Breast Cancer Patients

Debra Reis, registered nurse and researcher at ProMedica Cancer Institute is encouraging a more holistic approach to healing through a movement called Nia.

“Nia is a whole body conditioning practice that integrates the body, mind and spirit,” Reis said.  “Movement forms from the dance arts, martial arts and healing arts are integrated into the practice.” Styles include jazz, modern dance, tai chi, tae kwon do, yoga, and Feldenkrais.

According to Reis, Nia means the “Body’s Way” and is about body awareness and sensation. The exercise is typically done in bare feet, is gentle to the joints, and available for all fitness levels — from beginner to athletic.

In 2013, Reis lead a group of 40 women through a research study to determine the effects of Nia on breast cancer patients receiving radiation treatment. The study was open to women with all stages of breast cancer. Over a 12-week period, patients began to experience better mobility and significantly reduced fatigue.

“We discovered that women in the Nia group reported feeling more energy,” Reis said. “In addition, we found that they were more likely to demonstrate greater arm flexion and extension, which is often a long-standing side effect of breast cancer treatment.” Results from the initial ProMedica study were published in the September 2013 edition of the Oncology Nursing Forum. This was the first national study of its kind.

Reis is looking to recruit another 60 women for the current Nia study, examining its effects on women receiving Stage 2 and Stage 3 breast cancer treatment. The study will determine the benefits Nia may have on surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, or a combination of treatments.

“I believe Nia is a wonderful movement modality that has great health benefits, but people do not know about it,” Reis said. “The study will help identify the importance of Nia, as well as the significance of including this plan of care for women with breast cancer diagnosis.”

If you or a loved one is interesting in participating in the Nia study, please contact Healing Care at 419-824-1878. For a firsthand look at the exercise movement, watch this short NIA demonstration.