It’s hard for anyone to shut off their brain to what our education disposes us towards. For a Physiotherapist this may mean:
- Analyzing how people walk with curiosity (don’t worry, we don’t judge, we usually just wonder how we can help)
- Watching sports net playbacks for a slow motion shot on an injury so we can predict the severity of the injury, what a potential diagnosis may be, an if we should consider dropping that player from our MLB or NBA fantasy league
- Watching Netflix documentaries or docuseries or TED talks with the lens of a Physiotherapist.
In this blog I’ll give you a play by play on key points that would be of interest from a Physiotherapist perspective during watching the first episode of the Netflix series Explained called “Music”.
In the introduction, they set the tone in discussing the importance of music in our lives. One area where music has been found to affect human beings is the beats per minute rhythm. Simply, listening to faster music makes us move a little faster! They go on to mention briefly the impact music has on a person with movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease move more fluidly.
What is Parkinson’s Disease?
Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is a complex neurodegenerative disease that affects every person differently. A highly visible person who was diagnosed with early onset PD is Michael J. Fox.
Conscious movement in the body begins in the brain. It is controlled by dopamine, a neurotransmitter (chemical) that carries signals between the brain and the nerves. PD symptoms appear when the cells that produce dopamine die.
Parkinson’s can progress at a different rate for each individual. The combination of symptoms also vary by person. A neurologist would be the lead in the care, but Physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists and Speech Language Pathologists are all helpful members of the health care team depending on how symptoms progress.
More common symptoms of Parkinson’s include:
- Slowness and stiffness – can be helped with a Physiotherapist’s and Massage Therapists hands on-treatment as well as prescribed exercises (as can the below)
- Decreased balance
- Muscle rigidity
- Constipation, which is a less common symptom can be assisted with exercise as well as a Pelvic Health Physiotherapist.
You can read more about PD from Parkinson’s Canada.
In the Netflix Docuseries Your World Explained they initially say that music an help with PD symptoms. For someone who has slower movements and difficulty initiating actions the steady beat of music can hep speed up a movement pattern and steady it.
The brainstem and cerebellum help us to create the rhythmical patterns that help us walk. This is the ancient “reptilian brain”. Our heart rate at rest should be between 60 and 80 beats per minute (BPM) but can increase with faster music.
I know our speech language pathologist and audiology friends at Chorus would also find it interesting. This is both from the sense of when sound turns into music, and the frequency of sound, to the use of music in things like voice and speech therapy. This is shown in the rehabilitation of Gabby Gifford.
We often use music in Massage Therapy, Physiotherapy, and Yoga Therapy sessions to help facilitate relaxation. This is the transition from the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) to the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest).
A huge take home from this episode is the brains ability to learn and adapt. Neuroplasticity is still being understood, but it is essentially the brains ability to retrain other parts of the brain to take over for damaged part of the brain. As in with many things, early and intensive intervention is important. The fact that humans are able to heal, progress, adapt is remarkable and shouldn’t be discounted, everyone moves at their own pace.