Art, Music, DanceParkinson's

Benefits of mental singing in Parkinson’s disease

Patients with Parkinson’s disease have gait disturbances that can be improved with the use of appropriate visual and auditory cues.

Researchers from Mie University School of Medicine in Tsu, Japan report their experience using mental singing.

First, the details.

  • Patients with mild to moderate Parkinson’s disease participated in a music therapy session where they were trained to walk while mentally singing.
  • They were videotaped before and after the training session.

And, the results.

  • After one training session, the time and steps were significantly improved while walking straight and turning.
  • Follow-up interviews with the patients indicated that they found it useful to use mental singing while walking in their daily lives.

The bottom line?
The authors propose, “that singing regulates basal ganglia function [coordination and movement] and allows patients with Parkinson’s disease to keep time.”

The task used in this study was simple, required no special tools, and could be sued anytime and anyplace.

The P-I-E-N-O Parkinson website tells a story of a man who “steadied himself by singing the march from ‘The Bridge on the River Kwai’ and was able to walk.”

On WebMD, Dr. Enrico Fazzini, a neurologist from New York University Medical Center in New York City says, “Music helps reconnect Parkinson’s disease patients to what Parkinson’s disease takes away: the ability to move automatically. Therapeutically, music — or for that matter anything that helps Parkinson’s disease patients concentrate and focus on a physical task — will help patients move.”

Since posting this summary, another study by researchers at Pontifícia Universidade Catolica de Sao Paulo, in Brazil lead them to conclude; “music therapy is an excellent way to improve the life of the [elderly] patient” with Parkinson’s disease.”

8/31/08 17:55 JR; updated 10/25/10 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.