I play my accordion, even with shaky, slow moving fingers of Parkinson’s and/or flailing arms of dyskinesia. As I continue to play, my symptoms subside as I get into my Parkinson-free zone. I feel like my old self, but most of all, I feel normal. When I dance with my non-Parkinsonian classmates in my Broadway dance class, I look and feel as though I don’t have Parkinson’s. Music melts my Parkinson’s symptoms, at least in the short run.
I was delighted to discover that I am not the only one thinking about the benefits of music in managing Parkinson’s. Bin Hu, MD, is head of a Parkinson’s research project centered in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. He is trying to find out why music, at least temporarily, stops the paralyzing effects of Parkinson’s in some patients.
Dr. Hu believes that certain “cue” cells are spared from Parkinson’s disease. When these cells respond to music (music related to a person’s feelings and recollections of something enjoyable), they release chemicals that help Parkinson’s patients temporarily get back their control of movements.
Dr. Hu and his colleagues are studying Parkinson’s patients who exhibit positive musical responses. One of his goals is to make the music effect last longer, with another to figure out how Parkinson’s patients can be trained to use music as an alternative method of treatment.
Wouldn’t it be great if Dr. Hu discovered how to keep the music playing?
Lyrics from the song, “How Do You Keep the Music Playing?”
By Alan Bergman / Marilyn Bergman / Michel Legrand)
"How do you keep the music playing
How do you make it last
How do you keep the song from fading
If we can try with every day
To make it better as it goes
With any luck than I suppose
The music never ends”
Striking a Chord
By Anthony A. Davis
Apple Magazine, July-August, 2006, pages 26-30