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Harnessing the Power of Music

Listening to music

A proud, black piano stands in my parents’ living room. It’s the foundation of our home. From behind the sleek mahogany panels, fury, sadness, and happiness express themselves without judgment. My operatic brother sings his troubles away. My mom, a lifelong piano teacher, often alludes to the power of music because it isn’t just a creative outlet. It’s a mood-setter. It establishes rhythm and dance. Therapists use it to explore cognitive and emotional turmoil. And it also facilitates social change.

“Powerful songs have always been the engine behind the greatest social movements — it is the marching soundtrack that unites the people and gives them focus and resolve, and it’s not limited to the U.S.,” Barrett Martin writes in HuffPost. “In 1970s Nigeria, Fela Kuti invented Afro Beat music as a way to protest the oil company regime of Nigeria. His song ‘Zombie’ became a global hit that railed against Nigeria’s military dictators. In South Africa, the indigenous Mbatanga music helped bring about the end of apartheid and it spread a message of peace and reconciliation in that nation.”

If music is powerful enough to inspire entire chapters of history, what else is it capable of doing?

Parkinson’s disease and music

Music is powerful for a number of reasons; listening to it releases dopamine and serotonin – neurotransmitters that decline in Parkinson’s patients. But a study published in 2008 suggests that learning how to play an instrument also develops motor skills and reasoning abilities. Children who learned to play an instrument exhibited more advanced motor and reasoning skills than children who didn’t learn to play an instrument.

That same study states that, “Parallels between music and language have been used to support the hypothesis that music training may strengthen verbal skills.” Since music may help to develop speech patterns, exploring sound offers a tangible solution to verbal decline. Changes in speech occur with the progression of Parkinson’s. But active participation in music challenges the progression of Parkinson’s disease. Rather than observing consistent loss, Parkinson’s patients can explore music as a source of development.

Singing and Parkinson’s disease

If you’re feeling particularly enthusiastic about singing, consider joining a Parkinson’s singing group. In the same way that music changed history for entire communities, Parkinson’s singing groups offer a sense of camaraderie that’s powerful in itself. Producing endorphins in those who participate, singing is both cathartic and constructive. And it even boosts the immune system.

A small 2012 study in Norway found that group music therapy positively affected five of six Parkinson’s patients. While speech patterns didn’t noticeably improve, a decline in speech also didn’t occur during the study. This suggests that group singing may slow the progression of speech-related outcomes for Parkinson’s patients.

Singing encourages focus on breath support, diction, volume, and emotion. Vocal strength and articulation can challenge many Parkinson’s patients. But singing reinforces some of the functions that otherwise degrade.

Moving forward

Parkinson’s disease is degenerative and continuously heartbreaking in its thievery, but there are ways you can use music to fight its progression. Whether you’re interested in listening to records, picking up an instrument, or using your good ol’ vocal cords to bring happiness into your life, music offers incredible benefits to those who explore it.

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Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.

The post Harnessing the Power of Music appeared first on Parkinson’s News Today.

The ABCs of Parkinson’s: ‘K’ Is for Knowledge

knowledge

Sherri Journeying Through

A continuation of the “ABCs of Parkinson’s” series.

When diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD), or any disease, it is always beneficial to educate yourself about it. Ask yourself: Do they know what caused it? What are the symptoms? How can I best care for myself? Is there a cure?

Knowledge is a good and powerful thing. However, too much knowledge can be detrimental to your health.

Upon receiving a Parkinson’s diagnosis, each patient’s reaction will differ from another’s. You may want to know more. You may want to know little or nothing about the disease at first to allow yourself time to adjust or grieve. When you get to the point of wanting to know more about PD, tread carefully and cautiously. While there is a plethora of information out there to soothe those hungry for knowledge, not all sources are created equal.

Look for studies and research carried out by credible institutions and conducted relatively recently. You’ll find articles citing studies published five or more years ago, written as though the research is new. While the information may be still relevant, check if more up-to-date research is available. 

Many publications report on the findings from new studies. Take care not to overwhelm your brain. You don’t have to read all 112 articles on the research; a couple from your favorite publishers will be sufficient unless you are writing a research paper or testing your brain to see how much information it can hold.

Too much knowledge can cause unnecessary anxiety and stress. Parkinson’s is a unique disease for each patient and symptoms, medications, and the effects of treatments can vary from one individual to another.

I’d just finished reading a post on Facebook by a woman who was recently diagnosed with PD and wanted to know what to expect. The very first reply from a disgruntled caregiver who desperately needs a break would have scared the bejeebers out of me if that reply was the first bit of solicited advice I had received.

Go easy on the “knowledge” you give to a newbie. We are here to encourage them on their journey. The last thing they need at the onset of diagnosis is to have the living daylights scared out of them with all of the knowledge we’ve acquired. That wouldn’t be prudent or wise.

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Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.

The post The ABCs of Parkinson’s: ‘K’ Is for Knowledge appeared first on Parkinson’s News Today.

Why You May Want to Consider Massage Therapy

massage therapy

Sherri Journeying Through

When you’ve been blessed with the companionship of the Little Monster, as we so familiarly and unaffectionately call Parkinson’s disease, you may get tense and tight at the mere mention of PD.

For some with Parkinson’s, perhaps you haven’t experienced much stiffness. Maybe no pain. Maybe lots. Whether you have or not, there is something you can do for yourself that will keep you a little looser, a little more mobile, a little happier. It’s a little treat you can give yourself.

A massage.

Massage therapy has been proven to improve a patient’s day-to-day activities, sleeping habits, walking, stress, and more. Rigidity, stiffness, fatigue, and other symptoms have also been proven to get relief from this treatment. If these symptoms aren’t addressed, depression, poor self-esteem, and isolation can set in or get worse.

One study showed that massage helped boost self-confidence, well-being, walking abilities, and performance of daily living activities in a group of seven patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease. They were monitored while receiving eight one-hour, full-body massage therapy sessions over the course of eight weeks.

Urine samples of these patients also showed a significant decrease in the amount of stress hormones that were registered at the beginning of the study.

These positive results were again registered not only by the researchers, but also from assessments conducted with the participants of the study. This suggests that while massage leads to measurable biological and chemical improvements in patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease, the patients themselves can actually feel this difference tangibly in their everyday lives.

With more than 500,000 people currently suffering from Parkinson’s disease and its symptoms in the U.S. — and 50,000 people contracting Parkinson’s annually — further exploration of massage therapy as a complementary way to treat the symptoms should be taken up by researchers — and by the patients themselves.

We’ve always known a back rub feels nice. A massage will not only help with rigidity, stiffness, and stress, but also it will leave you feeling better. Most neurologists or movement disorder specialists will advise you to add this as part of your treatment. So consult your doctor for a recommendation, make an appointment, grab your car keys, and tootle on down to the local massage therapist. Maybe you’ll have timed it well and be next. And don’t forget to check your healthcare insurance program. Many will cover this type of treatment to some degree because it is considered treatment for Parkinson’s disease.

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Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s Disease.

The post Why You May Want to Consider Massage Therapy appeared first on Parkinson’s News Today.

Source: Parkinson's News Today