Music’s Magical Effect on Memory and Movement
Music therapy for neurological diseases is the topic of multiple research studies. Does it help patients with dementia? Does it help patients with Parkinson’s? Final Answer–yes. Since my parents have both, I wanted to find out more. (Find research links at the end of this blog, if you like reading studies.)
This is my non-scientific take-away from what I’ve read, followed by some far more exciting anecdotal evidence in the form of videos. Simply listening to music can awaken patients with severe dementia. Those who quit communicating entirely, may speak and sing. Musical sounds can enhance and improve motor function. Those who can barely walk with a walker move smoothly and rhythmically to familiar songs. Dance therapy groups for Parkinson’s patients are now common. Find on here: https://danceforparkinsons.org/find-a-class/class-locations/united-states
If you are like us in a rural area, they have a DVD to use at home.
One key is finding the patient’s personal music history. We all have music that evokes personal memories. I’ve found that with my parents. They respond the most to tunes from the very late 1940’s to early 1950’s. My mom perks up and sings to familiar hymns, my dad, not as much. My dad wants to dance every time certain “big band” songs come on.
In official language: “At the psychological level music can engage several social functions, can increase communication and social cohesion and can promote empathetic relationships, especially in the active MT [Music Therapy] approaches. Finally, from the rehabilitative point of view, making music can involve and influence motor areas functioning and regulation.”
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then these videos are worth ten-thousand. Below are two. One shows the effect of music on elders with dementia. It’s amazing! The second shows its impact on movement–again, amazing. There are more polished videos, many from news stories, but I chose showing the unpolished versions. They are less “glossy” but come across as more authentic. I hope you are as moved and encouraged by them as I was.
The Magic of Music on Memory.
Study link to music therapy in neurological conditions: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4369551/