Study finds positive effect of music in Parkinson’s patients

Study finds positive effect of music in Parkinson’s patients
Researchers from York University in Canada investigated how dancing to music affects various symptoms of Parkinson’s disease (PD). The results suggest that dancing to music can halt the progression of physical and psychological symptoms of Parkinson’s.
Parkinson’s disease is a brain disorder that affects movement. It often starts with a tremor in one hand and gradually progresses to trouble with speech, memory, and fatigue. Other symptoms are slow movement, stiffness and loss of balance.
Dr Joseph DeSouza, the senior author of the paper, said that previous research had already established that dance activates brain areas in those without PD. However, he said, most of these studies happened over short periods and did not include widely-used tools to diagnose the condition, such as the ​​Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS).The scientists said that they recruited 16 people with an average age of 69 years in Toronto, who had mild cases of PD. Participants attended weekly dance classes lasting 1.25 hours each for 3 years between 2014 and 2017. They had also tracked 16 people who did not participate in dance classes from the Parkinson’s Progression Marker Initiative, a longitudinal PD research project.

Throughout the study period, the scientists used UPDRS to assess participants’ psychological and motor symptoms and aspects of daily living, including speech, chewing, and swallowing. The scientists found that participants who took part in weekly dance classes saw significant improvements in speech, tremors, balance, and rigidity. Unlike those in the non-dance group, both movement and psychological symptoms did not deteriorate over 3 years.
Dr DeSouza said: “Many of the motor symptoms lead to isolation because once they get extreme, these people do not want to go out. These motor symptoms lead to further psychological issues, depression, social isolation, and eventually, the symptoms do get worse over time. Our study shows that training with dance and music can slow this down and improve their daily living and daily function.”