Ames, Iowa – An Iowa State researcher is studying how singing can help people with Parkinson’s disease.
Elizabeth Stegemoller says Parkinson’s affects an area of the brain that controls movement and she’s trying to find out how music affects her symptoms.
Stegemoller is an associate professor of kinesiology and a music therapist with a doctorate in neuroscience. She says the first music study found that patients were helped with their breathing and the muscles used for swallowing.
She says a study found other benefits as well.
One of the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease that is most noticeable is tremors that cause movement and says another study found similar movement results.
Stegemoller says symptoms can vary widely from patient to patient, so she’s not trying to come up with a singing plan for everyone.
She says Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disease behind Alzheimer’s disease.
Stegemoller received a three-year grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to determine the underlying mechanisms by which singing helps improve symptoms in people with Parkinson’s disease.