She uses dance to help repair her brain

Clara Ooyama, once a corporate lawyer for Eastman Kodak Co., suffered serious impairment of brain function as a side effect of chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer in 2006.

Over a two-year period, she lost basic mental capacities, including the ability to read and to multi-task.   Her doctor sent her to a brain rehabilitation clinic, but she was dismissed because she was too-high functioning.

With heroic determination, she worked to rebuild her neural pathways.  She at first worked six to eight hours a day on the controversial Lumosity brain training exercises, carefully keeping note of mental speed, memory, flexibility and ability to pay attention.

In 2013, her husband Steve Searles reached out to the Expressive Arts program of the Hochstein School of Music and Dance here in Rochester, N.Y.    Instructors helped her use dance and music as a way to do multiple tasks and hold multiple thoughts at the same time, and to integrate mind and body function.

She took part in a brain research symposium at the University of Rochester in 2014, and continues her work at the Hochstein school.

The video above shows her at the Hochstein school.  The links below provide more information about her therapy.


The Rewiring of a Beautiful Mind by Beth Bailey and Sarah DeMarco for the Hochstein School of Music and Dance.

Someone You Should Know: Clara Ooyama by Doug Emblidge for WHAM-TV (Channel 13) in Rochester, N.Y.   I wish I could have embedded this video.


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