Parkinson’s & Music Therapy

Many patients with Parkinson’s are finding health and wellness through music therapy. The American Music Therapy Association defines music therapy as “a treatment including creating, singing, moving to and/or listening to music which client’s abilities are strengthened and transferred to other areas of their lives.”

It is through this method that patients are able to foster healing and manage their symptoms of Parkinson’s. The following will explain just a few of the many benefits that Parkinson’s patients can glean from music therapy

Balance

A main benefit of music therapy is that it connects Parkinson’s patients to a regular regiment of balance practice. This is because a main component of music therapy is its connection to rhythm. There is something about music that makes us want to sway our hips, tap our toes, and clap our hands!

All of these rhythm signifiers allow Parkinson’s patients to practice their balance. While tapping their toes or swaying from side to side, individuals can strengthen their equilibrium and center of gravity.

Speaking

Through music therapy, patients can actively strengthen their speaking skills. To take part in music therapy, the patient is expected to take part in singing! This works the vocal cords and creates a regiment of speaking practice.

For those that are having difficulty speaking, the simple act of humming can heal vocal folds! Declan Costello, a surgeon who specializes in throat disorders, states the act of humming or singing just a few times a day can help keep the vocal muscles in top shape. 

Memory

Parkinson’s patients can strengthen their memory skills through music therapy. According to psychologist Aniruddh D. Patel, “music provides a way to access regions of the brain and reawaken autobiographical memory when language won’t.” 

This is because learning a song involves remembering multiple components. You must remember the words to the song, the tune, and the rhythm based around it. All of these interconnected components use different sections of the brain, and can effectively “cross-train” memorization skills. 

Dopamine

For those living with Parkinson’s disease, the greatest benefit of music therapy is most likely it’s connection to dopamine. There is believed to be a direct correlation between listening to music, and our brain’s release of dopamine. This ‘happy chemical’ helps neurally transmit feelings of pleasure and joy. 

For those that study Parkinson’s, this increased release of dopamine is especially relevant. This is because many scientists believe that Parkinson’s is caused and influenced by a deficit of dopamine. For caregivers who care for patients that have Parkinson’s, such as the ones at Expicare Nursing Agency, understanding why music therapy can be effective is important to ensure they’re able to care for their patient the best that they can.