‘Dancing Doctor’ Spends His Days Making Sick Children Smile

Tony Adkins is a 42 year-old neurosurgery physician assistant who truly believes that laughter is the best medicine. That’s why he spends his days cheering up his seriously ill young patients with his amazing dance moves!

It all started when Adkins, who is from Orange County, California, cheered up one of his patients by spontaneously breaking into a dance. Since then, he has made dancing a part of his daily routine!

Known as the “dancing doc,” Adkins says that a positive attitude is “more powerful” than some pain medication. He would like to protect the “magic of childhood” for his patients at the Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC).

“Dancing with patients is important because it adds levity and joy to the hospital experiences,” said Adkins, who is an Army veteran. “What I’m doing is right in with CHOC’s commitment to preserving the magic of childhood and ensuring patients don’t have to put their childhoods on pause. Studies show that when people laugh, smile and become more interactive, the effect on the brain is more powerful than some pain medications. It has a clinical value as it allows me to assess a patient’s physical abilities, mobility and recovery process.”

“I recently had a patient who was reluctant to get out of bed after surgery, but when I came in one morning to see him, an invitation to dance got him out of bed and moving,” he continued. “After we finished dancing, he kept going and starting doing laps around the hospital floor – it was awesome to see.”

Adkins has become so popular that many patients specifically request him.

“Nurses have told me that when patients get admitted to the unit, they will ask for me specifically,” he said. “I’m not formally trained in dance, but I’ve always loved music and movement. If I can help to instill a love of music and dance in my patients, in addition to improving their outcomes and outlooks, that’s a wonderful thing. There’s nothing better than seeing a smile on my patient’s faces or to hear them laugh – it’s self-care for me too.”

“I will definitely continue to dance with my patients – it’s become an integral part of my treatment and care for children,” Adkins concluded. “Nothing is more important than the health of a child, and I am so lucky to play an integral role in that.”


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