Songs from Parkinson's patients can help improve mood and motor symptoms and reduce the physiological indicators of stress according to preliminary results from the Iowa State University (ISU).
This study, published at the Society for Neuroscience 2018 conference, is based on previous findings that are effective treatments to improve respiratory control and muscles used to swallow Parkinson's patients.
Elizabeth Stegemöller, an assistant professor of exercise science at Iowa State University, says that although the results are preliminary, improvements between singing participants are similar to the effects of medication.
"We see that improvement every week when we leave the group, it almost seems to give us back our footsteps, we know we feel better and feel better," Stegemöller said.
"Some of the improved symptoms, such as finger tapping and gait, are not always responsive to medication, but are improving with the song."
Stegemöller conducted this study with Elizabeth "Birdie" Shirtcliff, an associate professor of human developmental family studies, and Andrew Zaman, a graduate student in motion science. The researchers measured the heart rate, blood pressure and cortisol levels in 17 participants in the therapy singing group.
Participants reported their feelings of sadness, anxiety, happiness and anger. Data was collected before and after the one-hour song session.
The study was one of the first to investigate how songs from Parkinson's patients affect heart rate, blood pressure, and cortisol. Stegemöller found that the preliminary data were not statistically significant, although all three levels were reduced in the study. There was no significant difference in happiness or anger after class, but participants were less anxious and sad.
Although the results of the research are encouraging, what are the mechanisms by which researchers still make these changes?
The team analyzes blood samples and measures changes in oxytocin (binding-related hormone) levels, inflammation (an indicator of disease progression), and nerve damage (ability to compensate for damage from brain damage). If these factors can explain the merits of the song.
"Some of the reasons why cortisol goes down may be because the participants feel less positive and less stressed in singing with others in the group, suggesting that we can see the combined hormone oxytocin," Shirtcliff Said.
"We also see changes in heart rate and heart rate, which can show how calm and physiologically comfortable an individual is after singing."
The prevalence of Parkinson's disease is expected to double in the next 20 years. The researchers say the therapy song can be an accessible and affordable treatment option to help improve motor symptoms, stress, and quality of life in patients with Parkinson's disease.
Source: Iowa State University