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Parkinson's patients sing in tune with creative arts therapy
Date:6/14/2011

uses symptoms including tremor, slowness of movement, muscle stiffness and balance problems.

"Our goal is to find new approaches to help these patients address their illness," explained Diane Breslow, MSW, LCSW, coordinator and social worker for the center. "Very often with Parkinson's disease there is a fear of the future and the unknown; we want to give these patients a better way to live with their disease in the present."

Music and drama therapy addresses many of the physical and emotional components of Parkinson's disease. Benefits include improvement of physical coordination and functional movement, postural awareness, as well as speech and voice enrichment.

"In the music portion, the patients are learning the concept of rhythm which helps them improve their gait and movement," explained Breslow. "Reading scripts during the drama portion increases word recall and articulation, while the voice is exercised in both parts of the class."

Beyond the physical benefits of the therapy, Creative Arts also enhances mood and positive attitude. The patients use the opportunity to set personal goals and encourage one another to address specific challenges they face because of their illness. During one session, the group read through a scene from the Academy Award winning "King's Speech." One of the men in the group acknowledges the similarities between the main character's experience and his own. He tells the class that when first diagnosed, he would speak softer or take smaller steps in anticipation of the disease eventually limiting these abilities. After this revelation, he proposed a challenge to the group: "Let's make it a goal to use our loud voices and make sure we can be heard. We need our loud voices."

Moments like this are why Breslow loves her job. "I've seen firsthand how these techniques bring out feelings the patients might not otherwise have access to," said Breslow. "Music and drama are a beautiful way to a
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Contact: Megan McCann
memccann@nmh.org
312-926-5900
Northwestern Memorial Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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