I was reading your article on the power of music [“Unchained by Melody,” Jan/Feb 2008] and am responding to Dr. Brey's request to share how music and the brain can work together in neurological conditions.
It's been long known in the Parkinson's world that when patients are near the end of a dose of Sinemet, they can have great difficulty placing one foot in front of the other to walk. But, remarkably, they can often dance across the room!
My sister has Parkinson's and she has used this technique on many occasions to get her safely where she needed to be to take her medications and to save herself the embarrassment of being frozen. I have asked my sister to write her own description of her experience:
“When you shuffle your feet or they freeze up, you might try dancing instead of walking. I do and it improves my attitude and my movement. My husband and I like to go out to sing at open-microphone piano bars and restaurants. When I need to stand up and walk and it is an inconvenient time because I am stiff, I just start dancing in place to a peppy song. Then I walk to the beat. This works well. This is something that can be done anywhere. Just sing or think about a peppy, feel-good song and dance or jive-walk to your destination. It will amuse you and others who watch you. Why don't you try it? It sure beats the slow Parkinson's shuffle!”
B. Gail Vass, R.N., B.S.N.