Music could boost health in people with Parkinson’s disease

Credit: Jefferson Santos / Unsplash.

Parkinson’s disease affects over 1 million people in the United States, with about 60,000 newly diagnosed cases each year, according to the Parkinson’s Foundation.

The average age of diagnosis is around age 60. Individuals with Parkinson’s often have trouble with hand control, impaired balance, smell deficits, tremors, and speech problems, such as a monotone voice, slow-talking, and reduced volume.

In a study from John Hopkins, scientists found musical interventions could lessen motor symptoms in Parkinson’s patients and improve their cognitive ability and emotional well-being.

They found the 24 participants in the guitar playing program showed improvement in mood and overall quality of life, and, for some, motor functions, including enhanced posture and gait and the reduction of tremors that affect the hands, legs, and feet.

In the music program, the participants learned from a Peabody Institute instructor how to play basic notes, chords, and eventually simple pieces like “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.”

Half the participants were randomly assigned to a guitar class, while the other half pursued their usual medical care. After six weeks, they switched places.

The improvements recorded on most measures after the intervention was clinically significant, meaning the intervention had a genuine, noticeable effect on daily life.

While there’s mounting evidence that music and rhythm-based interventions can bring improvements across multiple disorders, the study showed that even relatively minimal musical activity could have benefits.

The researchers say that music activates multiple networks in the brain. In addition, these people network before and after the sessions.

Being social and engaged in learning may have beneficial effects on the patient’s well-being.

If you care about Parkinson’s disease, please read studies about Vitamin E that may help prevent Parkinson’s disease, and Vitamin D could benefit people with Parkinson’s disease.

For more information about brain health, please see recent studies about a new way to treat Parkinson’s disease, and results showing flavonoid-rich foods could improve survival in Parkinson’s disease.

The study was conducted by neurologist Alexander Pantelyat et al and published in Parkinson’s Disease.

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