A preliminary study presented this week at the 2018 Neuroscience Society conference revealed that singing could reduce stress and improve motor function in people with Parkinson's.
Research has shown that the improvement among patients who sang is similar to the benefits of taking medicines.
"Some of the symptoms that improve, such as finger-tapping and walking, do not always respond well to medication, but improve with singing," explained Elizabeth Stegemoller, assistant professor of kinesiology at Iowa State University.
For the study, the researchers measured levels of heart rate, blood pressure and cortisol in 17 participants in a therapeutic singing group. All three levels were reduced, although preliminary data did not reach statistical significance.
The information was collected before and after an hour session of an hour. The participants also reported feelings of sadness, anxiety, happiness and anger.
Researchers now work with blood samples to measure oxytocin levels (hormone-related binding), changes in inflammation (an indicator of disease progression), and neuroplasticity (the brain's ability to compensate for lesions). or disease) to determine whether these factors can explain the benefits of singing.
Swallow and breathe
They had previously discovered that singing is an effective treatment to improve respiratory control and the muscles used to swallow in people with Parkinson's disease.
Elizabeth Stegemoller, is responsible for the therapeutic offer to a group of patients with Parkinson's once a week and there they perform a series of vocal exercises.
"We are not trying to make them sing better, but to help them strengthen the muscles that control the function of swallowing and breathing," he explained about the treatment.
It is that the song uses the same muscles that control swallowing and breathing, two functions that influence Parkinson's disease. Singing significantly improves that part of the body, he said.
"We work on an adequate respiratory support, on posture and on the way in which we use the muscles involved in the vocal cords, which requires a complex coordination of a good and strong muscular activity", he explained.
He added that family members of patients say that this practice also has other benefits, such as mood improvements, decreased stress and depression.