The Effect of Music on Gait Pattern for Patients with Parkinson's Disease




McEwen, Madeline
Cooper, Ralph
Liu, Howe


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Introduction: Reports have shown that music therapy can help patients with Parkinson’s Disease who often demonstrate difficulty ambulating. However, it is unclear how music therapy can work for this patient population. The purpose of this literature review is to identify specific music therapy parameters used such as genre of music, frequency, and length of treatment sessions and analyze how each were implemented to improve ambulatory ability in patients with Parkinson’s Disease. Methods: Research was conducted through PubMed resulting in nine applicable articles in the last ten years which included two systematic reviews, six randomized control trials, and one cohort study. Inclusion criteria are subjects with Parkinson’s Disease, ambulatory without physical assistance, and living in community. Exclusion criteria are visual or auditory deficits. Results: Music genre used in these studies were Renaissance (four studies), Classical (one study), German folk (three studies), jazz (one study) and music with an underlying metronome beat (three studies). The most frequently used type of music was instrumental with a definitive beat (six studies) that was familiar to the subject (three studies), resulting in significant improvements in gait stride, cadence, and step length (nine studies). Subjects listened to music via headphones or speaker (five headphones, one speaker, others not specified). Compared to their gait speed baseline (GSB), subjects performed best when the music frequency was increased by ten percent (five studies). One of the most important factors of music therapy is the use of familiar music, which results in minimal cognitive demand to synchronize gait (four studies). In terms of therapy parameters, the length of each intervention session lasted thirty to sixty minutes with thirty minutes being the most often used (seven studies); the frequency was one to three times per week with three times per week as the most selected (five studies); and the entire duration of the therapy ranged from one to thirteen weeks with three weeks as the most common. Conclusions: The quality of music that will promote gait initiation and improve gait parameters in patients with Parkinson’s Disease include the following: familiarity, instrumental music, definitive beat, headphone delivery, and GSB increased by ten percent. The most common selected intervention parameters are thirty minute sessions, three sessions per week, for a duration of three weeks.