Music Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

The notion of music therapy is centuries old.

There are studies on this subject dating from the 19th century.

Today, with the available technology, the findings in this field have multiplied and have been reported in the most prestigious scientific publications.

In an article on music and neurological diseases, the prestigious researcher and popularizer Oliver Sacks, recently deceased, quoted Nietzsche as saying that “people listen to music with our muscles”.

Regarding this appreciation, Sacks recalled that often following the rhythm of music is an involuntary act, reasoning that these effects of music on the locomotor system of the body may have to do with its therapeutic effect in various neurological diseases.

Listening to music is an activity that practically everyone enjoys in their day-to-day lives, but in the case of people with multiple sclerosis, in addition to being one of those “simple pleasures” in life, it has therapeutic effects.

Various studies have shown the therapeutic power of music in this field.

Thus, patients with Parkinson’s disease can alleviate their symptoms when exposed to music with regular rhythms.

One of the patients with this ailment that Sacks treated, the composer Lukas Foss, did not experience any symptoms while playing music on the piano, and it is just one of the many cases documented by this expert.

Coping with multiple sclerosis symptoms is still a challenge for many patients. Perhaps that is why it is a population that frequently tries what alternative medicine offers (within which music therapy is part).

Benefits of music in multiple sclerosis

In a review of published studies on music therapy in the setting of multiple sclerosis, the authors found case records in which sufficient improvement was demonstrated to further investigate this issue.

The improvement was documented in different aspects of the disease:

Anxiety

Depression

Psychosocial well-being

Emotional well-being

In another article on music and neuroscience, published by an agency of the United States Ministry of Health, it is said that “beyond its obvious calming effect, music can induce rhythmic body movements and other benefits.”

Movement routines with selected melodies and rhythms can improve:

Coordination

Concentration

Physical resistance

Ability and independence in actions such as walking

Memory

Verbal communication

The same document supported the theory that symptoms such as anxiety, depression and stress can also be alleviated by listening to or performing music.

Another option is group therapy sessions with music, as music activates the emotions and social connections of the brain.

On the improvement in verbal communication, it has been seen that words that can be difficult to verbalize on their own are pronounced easily when they are within a melody : “Singing can also help with breathing, pronunciation and rhythm that you need He speaks”.

Movement and coordination

Rehabilitation programs are an effective therapeutic strategy for performing many day-to-day tasks independently.

Music therapy programs include repetitive exercises set by the rhythm of the music to improve:

Coordination

Concentration

Physical resistance

Memory

Changes in memory function are relatively common in patients with multiple sclerosis.

It has been observed that even people who find it difficult to remember certain data or tasks to, it is still possible to learn new skills related to music.

In fact, there are numerous studies that have shown how playing an instrument is associated with improvements in memory and cognitive function in the general population.

This is because music is associated with areas of the brain where long-term memories are stored.

In summary, resorting to music therapy, whether professionally led or self-care, can be an effective, low-cost, and low-risk intervention.

Cellist Jacqueline du Pré had a full professional career despite suffering from multiple sclerosis.

Anyone can learn from his example and that of many others who have found in music a way to improve their quality of life and well-being.

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