Can Music and Dance Therapy Slow Progression of Parkinson's?

Category: Newsletter

There is no cure for Parkinson’s but global studies have shown that dancing and listening to music can reduce the progression of the disease. Music therapy—which utilizes rhythm, movement, voice and creativity—helps to modulate emotions, movements and communication by modifying the brain’s activity.

Recently, Mumbai-based Jaslok Hospital announced a pilot-based study to understand how listening to music and dancing helped provide a better quality of life to people with Parkinson’s. Dr Paresh Doshi, Director of the Neurosurgery department, who is heading the project, says the results would be beneficial in harnessing the power of music to provide a better quality of life to people with the disabling neurological motor disorder.

Globally, several studies have shown that dancing and listening to music can reduce the progression of Parkinson’s. So, how would this study be different from already existing research?
Those studies did not have control groups or include meditation as part of a structured treatment. Besides, we are also evaluating many psychological and cognitive aspects of Parkinson’s which have never been evaluated before. The third important aspect is that we are involving the caretakers and evaluating the impact of this therapy on them as they play a critical role in the management strategy for the disease.

What motivated you to take up this study?
We conduct several webinars every year to support the cause of Parkinson’s, create awareness and guide patients for treatment options. During these webinars and routine consultations, I have always been asked, “Is there nothing that you can do to stop the progress of my disease?” So, when I found that there could be a possible answer, I thought it should be first evaluated scientifically before we can recommend this to the patient.

How many patients will participate in the study? What would be the parameters in selecting them?
We will have 15 patients in the study arm and 15 patients in the control arm between 22 and 80 years of age.

Please explain the clinical significance of the influence of music in improving patients’ quality of life, mood, cognition and behaviour. What is the scientific explanation for it?
Music therapy is defined as the use of music and sounds to develop physical, mental and social well-being. Music brings health and well-being to the patients and provides a framework for the development of non-pharmaceutical treatments for neurological disorders. A recent study confirmed that a music-based physical therapy program improved balance and functional mobility in patients with Parkinson’s. Listening to different musical genres has been shown to induce spatiotemporal sense and trunk oscillations in the gait of Parkinson’s patients. Music-based rehabilitation for gait training of Parkinson’s patients can be considered as an effective modality.

As per a systematic and meta-analysis of Parkinson’s patients, it has been shown that music therapy provides an effective treatment to improve motor functions, balance, freezing of gait, gait speed and mental health in these patients. Group singing and song learning can also be helpful in promoting memory, language, speech information processing, executive function and respiratory muscle strength in older adults, as well as with Parkinson’s.

What would the next step be once you get results of the trial?
The next step will be to take this up on a very large scale—maybe all across India. Also, we would like to enroll hundreds of patients to see the real impact. It would become a multi-centric study.

What are the other research areas that you want to focus on next?
We are conducting several research studies on Parkinson’s and its management. Most of them are involved in the area of deep brain stimulation technology. For example, we are evaluating the impact of various programming methods to improve the outcome of patients who have undergone deep brain stimulation surgery. We are evaluating signals from the subthalamic nucleus — a small lens-shaped structure located within the diencephalon near the junction with the midbrain — to find out the best possible way to implant electrodes in an accurate location. There are few other studies that we are not allowed to discuss as they are in the research phase.

Share This Article:


Contact Us

Parkinson's Resource Organization
74785 Highway 111
Suite 208
Indian Wells, CA 92210

Local Phone
(760) 773-5628

Toll-Free Phone
(877) 775-4111

General Information


Like! Subscribe! Share!

Did you know that you can communicate with us through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and now Instagram?



Updated: August 16, 2017