The Communication Corner: Parkinson’s Disease and Active Music Therapy

Home/Uncategorized/The Communication Corner: Parkinson’s Disease and Active Music Therapy

The Communication Corner: Parkinson’s Disease and Active Music Therapy


Active Music Therapy: An Interactive Way to Stimulate Emotional and Motor Rehabilitation for Parkinson’s Disease Patients

         Over the past several years, Music Therapy has become a widely used method of treatment in a medical setting. Individuals who participate in music therapy, benefit on multiple levels including, emotional, cognitive, social, intellectual,  and physical. Music therapy has also been known to reduce levels of stress and anxiety, as well as improve cognitive functioning in Alzheimer’s Disease patients. Research is also suggesting that music therapy is a beneficial therapy method for individuals struggling with Parkinson’s Disease. As you may or may not know, Parkinson’s disease affects roughly 500,000 individuals in the United States, with 50,000 new cases developing annually. Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative neurological disorder that is caused by degenerative neurons in the brain, responsible for controlling movement. Active music therapy is believed to help improve the functional status of individuals, diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

    Active music therapy is a specific approach to music therapy that involves the improvisation of music, in which the patient and the music therapist use musical instruments and their voices. By having the patient’s play musical instruments, the sensory organs are actively engaged. Furthermore, the patient begins to create music and rhythm which stimulates emotional and motor responses. Thus, providing movement of different sensory pathways in the brain. In a study that compared the effects of active music therapy to general physical therapy, 32 adults, 65 years of age with Parkinson’s disease, were compared between the two therapy methods. Researchers found that active music therapy not only increased the motivational level and quality of life in patients with Parkinson’s, but it also improved motor functioning levels of bradykinesia and emotional status. Bradykinesia is a medical term that is defined by extreme slowness of movement of the limbs and reflexes. The researchers hypothesized that the improvements found in bradykinesia were the result of activation of the emotional neural-based network in the brain. In other words, the temporary emotional response, facilitated increased motor functioning by activating the cortical-basal ganglia motor loop, which is the circuit area in the brain that is primarily affected in Parkinson’s disease patients.

    The previous findings post a positive opinion of active music therapy as a vital resource in the lives of individuals battling Parkinson’s disease. Music therapy has been proven to provide tranquility during taxing situations, improve cardiac functioning, and recently, motor and emotional functioning in Parkinson’s patients. Emotional and motor functioning are not the only highly praise outcomes of active music therapy. Parkinson’s patients have reported improvements in social interaction, involvement, responsiveness, and awareness. Active music therapy continues to grow in popularity and continues to prove that it is a unique and beneficial approach to standard therapy methods for Parkinson’s disease patients.



Psychosom Med. 2000 May-Jun;62(3):386-93 Active music therapy in Parkinson’s disease: an integrative method for motor and emotional rehabilitation.


About the Author:

Leave A Comment