A Parkinson’s patient is on the road to recovery, thanks to rock band Dire Straits.
The patient was played Dire Straits’ hit song ‘Walk Of Life’ with surprising consequences, recovering brain function and balance.
Scientists are exploring the connection between certain rhythms that allow the brain to bypass sections damaged by stroke, traumatic injury or degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and dementia.
“The emphatic rhythm and strong melody found in songs like the ‘A Message to You Rudy’ or Dire Straits’ ‘Walk of Life’ make them songs ideal in the rehabilitation of speech, language and cognitive functions,” says Daniel Thomas managing director of Chroma Therapies, the UK’s only national provider of arts therapies services.
“There is strong neurological evidence that music activates many different areas across the brain. The motor system is very sensitive to picking up cues from the auditory system so when we hear music, particularly pulse or rhythm, it kicks straight into the motor system going around the brain,” according to eminent music therapy professor Dr Wendy Magee, from Temple University Philadelphia.
“Music can engage alternative pathways for a specific function, such as language, depending on the size of the lesion or even effect changes to brain structures. Studies have shown that music might excite activity around small lesions to activate function and, with larger lesions, it seems the healthy side of the brain might take on roles and mechanisms the damaged side was previously responsible for.”
Thomas added: “We are currently treating a client who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease about two years ago and while he listens to the radio, he has never played an instrument or ever experienced arts-based therapy but had heard of neurologic music therapy through a family member and felt it would be something to try.
“While he worked with an occupational therapist his condition continued to deteriorate but within a few neurologic music therapy sessions, he began to notice improvements in his balance and gait and importantly for him in his confidence. His OT also noticed a difference in his gait and balance.”