News ArchivesRead News
The healing power of music
Monday July 22, 2013
Coeur d'Alene Press - Dennis Rose, Earl Van Dyke and Nick Buzolich gathered in the community room in the Silver Lake Mall at 10 a.m. last Thursday. They smiled and joked with one another, much like youngsters in a music class who just can't sit still.
But these guys really can't sit still for long because they have Parkinson's disease. They met with board-certified music therapist Carla Carnegie to sing, stretch, and play instruments as well as do vocal exercises that focused on rhythm, movement and diaphragm control. The hour-long weekly session is called "Singing for Wellness and Joy."
The group meets every Thursday to form a positive environment for people living with Parkinson's, creating music that benefits the body and mind.
"I call it 'Singing for Wellness and Joy' because I want it to be open to everyone," Carnegie said. "We have other folks who aren't affected by Parkinson's come in and sing."
Ruby Menke, 71, joined the session a bit after 10. She was diagnosed with Parkinson's three years ago.
"It's quite a challenge though, when you have been able to sing and you really can't very well," she said. Despite the challenge, Menke has been a part of "Singing for Wellness and Joy" since it began last November, working to improve and control conditions brought on by Parkinson's.
Parkinson's disease is a motor system disorder that depletes or damages dopamine-producing nerve cells. Dopamine is necessary to maintain control of one's body, so those affected by Parkinson's generally tremble in the arms, legs, jaw and face, are stiff in the limbs, move slowly and have impaired balance. Currently, no cure is known.
Rose, 73, has been living with Parkinson's for at least nine years.
"I found out by realizing that people swing their left arm when they walk," Rose said. "I wasn't swinging my left arm." He said he was told that swinging arms while walking has to do with balance. Pretty soon he was dragging his left foot, and balance has become his No. 1 problem.
"It reminded me of Chester in 'Gunsmoke,'" he said. "He had a stiff leg."
"Singing for Wellness and Joy" is also a way for people with Parkinson's to come together to share stories, trials and tribulations, and elevate their mood through music.
"It's really great to have this opportunity to participate and to be able to say things and speak your mind and not feel embarrassed," Rose said. "We've all got the same thing. We're all in the same boat. So what you might be holding back might be just what the other person wants to hear too."
Van Dyke, 83, said the group also helps fight depression.
"All old people have multiple ailments, and we'll get depressed, and Carla cheers us up," he said. He has dealt with Parkinson's for two years, and when he started showing symptoms, he thought it was just low blood sugar. "I never did connect those dots ... it's easy to misdiagnose. I was taking the wrong medication for a while."
Buzolich, 74, has had Parkinson's for 10 years, and said many times, people with the disease will "speak very soft," and the group helps with that.
"For me, it makes it an awareness, for some reason," he said. "You forget to speak loud, by habit as well as by your Parkinson's problems. If I come here once a week I'm aware of the fact that I have to speak loud, just kind of a reminder."
"And I did not used to be a soft speaker, so now I have to really concentrate on speaking more clearly and speaking loudly. The breathing helps," Menke added. "Sometimes I forget that I'm fading out."
The group sat in a circle around Carnegie as she strummed the guitar and led songs, emphasizing the importance of breathing, volume, widening the jaw and softening the face. They sang "Back in the Saddle Again," "Deep in the Heart of Texas" and "How Great Thou Art," as well as a few others.
"I think the breathing is very helpful, and the exercise I learned today," Rose said. "The next time I feel like I can't make it across the room, I'm going to stop and practice some breathing and see if that helps."
After the singing was a Tai Chi lesson with Bob Hughes, beginning at 11 a.m. The Tai Chi is also part of the Parkinson's therapy.
Recent NewsOct 18 - Brain disconnections may contribute to Parkinson's hallucinations
Oct 18 - Fighting Parkinson's disease through dance
Oct 17 - Scientists Identify Structure of PINK1, Key Parkinson’s-protective Protein
Oct 17 - Diabetes drug cuts Parkinson's risk by 28 percent, study finds
Oct 10 - Advances in Brain Pacemaker Reduces Tremors, Helps Parkinson's Sufferers Live a More Normal Life
Oct 10 - Medical History Could Help Predict Parkinson's Disease Risk Long Before Diagnosis
Oct 3 - Changes in Olfactory Bulb Explain Loss of Smell in Early Stages of Parkinson’s Disease, Study Finds
Oct 3 - Sleep Disturbances May Worsen Motor Symptoms in Parkinson’s Disease, Study Suggests
Sep 12 - Australian Researchers Develop New Diagnostic Tool to Spot Early Signs of Parkinson’s
Sep 11 - GeneFo Webinar to Focus on Using Humor to Manage Parkinson’s Disease
Sep 6 - Parkinson’s and the ‘D’ word
Sep 6 - Compounds in Asthma Drugs Might Be Used as Parkinson’s Treatment
Sep 5 - AstraZeneca Joins Takeda, Berg to Advance Development of Parkinson’s Disease Therapies
Sep 1 - Stem Cell Transplant Trial in Parkinson’s Patients Planned After Test in Japan Succeeds in Monkeys
Sep 1 - Titan to Start Phase 1/2 Study of Subdermal Implant to Deliver Requip to Parkinson’s Patients
Aug 30 - FDA Refuses Acorda’s Inbrija New Drug Application Due to Manufacturing Questions
Aug 23 - Support Groups: Are They for You?
Aug 22 - Internet Visits with Parkinson’s Specialist Can Be as Effective as In-person Visits, Trial Finds
Aug 21 - Cavion’s New CMO to Lead Cav3 Platform Development for Neurological Diseases
Aug 15 - Singing Helps Early-stage Parkinson’s Patients Retain Speech, Respiratory Control, Studies Show