Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Music Therapy for Parkinson's and Dementia

Activities directors, caregivers, and healthcare professionals,here is some great information
Here is a great dementia resource for caregivers and healthcare professinals,

Here is information on being the best caregiver you can be

Here are more interesting dementia brain boosting activities


Music therapy holds so many promises for so many types of diseases, not only for memory loss but also for working with people who have movement disorders, especially Parkinson's.

Research at Beth Abraham Hospital shows that "Parkinson's Disease patients regain some ability to organize and perform movements that were lost due to the disease. Not just any melody will do. The music must evoke a response in each patient, which is used by Tomaino to help the patient enact a specific physiological movement, such as walking. For the patient to move physically, the rhythm must be stimulating and the music familiar enough to allow for carry-over outside the music therapy session."

Michael Thaut, AoA Grant Project Director of Colorado State University, in the bulletin on the White House Mini-Conference on Aging and Music Therapy, 1994, states: "The results of this study impact neurological rehabilitation because they demonstrate that particular elements of music have a specific effect on motor systems. After three weeks, the patients with Parkinson's disease demonstrated longer stride length and improved gait velocity by an average of 25 per cent. These data validate the effectiveness of auditory rhythm to improve gait through the rhythmic coupling of auditory and motor systems."

In working with persons who have dementia, certain cautions need to be taken, as certain types of music may cause agitation. Two example come to mind:

one psychologist told me that in his Alzheimer special care unit, their least successful "musical session" involved live bagpipe music: this session was not meant to be retreive memories (the audience had no special association with the music and therefore could not access long-term memories) but meant as more of a quality of life occasion, but the results were increased agitation and outbursts. Their most successful sessions (audience was relaxed and peaceful) were with classical music and hymns.
Be prepared that people may retrieve both positive and negative memories. Connie Tomaino of Beth Abraham told the story of the time she played a waltz to a women who broke out in sobs, only to find out later that the woman had been in a concentration camp (unknown to Connie at the time) and hearing waltz music was a traumatic event for her.

For those interested in learning more about the effects of music therapy on memory and gait, I would suggest contacting the National Association for Music Therapy at 301.598.3300. You can contact them for additional information on specific music research. Their brochure also lists specific federally funded studies and one of the responsibilities of the recipients is the dissemination of their study's results: many will have write-ups in brochures, booklets, books, magazines, etc.

Here is a partial list of recipients from the National Association for Music Therapy:

TITLE: Music Therapy for Alzheimer's and Dementia Individuals:
Recipient: University of Iowa, Kate Gfeller, School of Music 319.335.2611

TITLE: Music Therapy in Alzheimer's Disease
Recipient: University of Miami, Ted Tims 305.284.3943

TITLE: A Rhythmic Sensorimotor Music Therapy Program to Improve Gait Ability in Parkinsonian Patients and Healthy Elderly
Recipient: Colorado State University, Michael Thaut 303.491.7384

You may also want to contact the Institute for Music and Neurologic Function at 718.519.4164 and ask for their booklet "Music has Power" -- it is good write-up of the overall picture on the therapeutic benefits of music. They are also conducting research in five catorgories: music and hearing, music and language, music and memory, music and learning, and music and recovery from nerve injury.

Other comments about the use of music:
Rosemary Bakker Gerontologist/Interior Designer smartage@msn.com

The best type music? I have seen the best results with using the music
that was popular in the patient's "prime" time of life. That is if you have the luxury of knowing what the individual enjoyed. Our recreational therapist was familiar with our above mentioned gentleman and realized what he needed. Some good old fashioned swing music was wonderful. For a 50-year-old patient, R&B might do the trick. Soft, or "elevator music" is never inappropriate. Most older patients, especially here in the Bible Belt, respond well to instrumental hymns and spirituals.

Poor choices would obviously be rock, jazz, polkas, lively spirited songs and oddly enough patriotic music (especially with veterans). You want to avoid "getting the juices flowing,"' so to speak.

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