Study Says Singing Might Reduce Risk of Parkinson's Disease

Could singing relieve the symptoms of Parkinson's?
Could singing relieve the symptoms of Parkinson's? (photo: pexels)
By M. GraceNovember 9th, 2018

According to a recent as reported on November 9, singing therapy might be possible to reduce some of the difficult-to-treat motor and mood symptoms associated with Parkinson's disease.

It has been known that Parkinson's disease is a progressive neurodegenerative condition that is affecting more than 10 million people worldwide.

The disease's symptoms include "tremor and difficulty coordinating movements. Also, mood changes can occur, with anxiety and depression being relatively common." Drugs can help reduce some of the symptoms but they become less effective as the condition progresses and the side effects of these drugs may worsen.

Researchers from Iowa State University in Ames ran a pilot study to investigate if singing may affect people with Parkinson's disease. Spearheaded by Elizabeth Stegemöller, an assistant professor of kinesiology at the university, the researchers presented their findings earlier this week at the Society for Neuroscience 2018 conference in San Diego, California.

The researchers focused on a group consisted of 17 people who had been attending a singing group on an average of 2.4 years. They measured their blood pressure, heart rate, and cortisol levels before and after the sessions of singing. Participants also answered a questionnaire related to sadness, anger, happiness, and anxiety.

"We see the improvement every week when they leave a singing group. It's almost like they have a little pep in their step. We know they're feeling better and their mood is elevated," Stegemöller said.

"Part of the reason cortisol is going down could be because the singing participants feel positive and less stress in the act of singing with others in the group. This suggests we can look at the bonding hormone, oxytocin," Elizabeth "Birdie" Shirtcliff, an associate professor in human development family studies, explained.

Stegemöller hoped that the study they conducted could help the medical industry to advise singing as a therapy and to develop methods to bring this music therapy-led intervention to as many persons with Parkinson's disease as possible.

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