Grandmother and granddaughter with microphone

How Music Therapy Via Singing Training Can Improve Psychomotor Speed In Patients With Alzheimer’s

The Definition of Music Therapy

The World Federation of Music Therapy defines music therapy as a process where a qualified music therapist facilitates therapeutic objectives to meet a person’s different needs by utilizing the elements of music, such as harmony, sound, melody and rhythm.

Some of the therapeutic objectives that such therapy may facilitate include; mobilization, organization, expression, communication, relationships and learning. Some examples of human needs that the process aims to touch are the cognitive, emotional, social, physical, and mental needs of the patients.

 The Aim of the Study

Music therapy is one of the most commonly used non pharmaceutical methods to treat patients with dementia. However, enough scientific evidence is still lacking when it comes to the effectiveness and efficiency of such therapy among patients with dementia. This is the reason why a study was conducted in order to investigate how singing training can affect the cognitive function of patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

 Karaoke as Part of Music Therapy

Karaoke has been around for many years and it is one of the most favorite past times of many people. Individuals love singing, no matter the gender or the age. Karaoke comes from two words which are “kara”, which means empty, and “oke” which means “orchestra”. When a person sings a song with an accompaniment, he tries to control his singing by judging the gap between his own voice and the accompaniment. A person controls his singing effortlessly and naturally, all at the same time.

Since this is the case, karaoke will really be a good treatment for a patient with Alzheimer’s disease to continue. Aside from the fact that it is effortless, it is also a fun activity that the patients can enjoy. In most cases, patients will not continue to go through therapy if they get exhausted while participating in the intervention, no matter how effective it is. They may not also continue the therapy if it is uninteresting and boring.

The effects of dementia include impairment and disability of the patient. It does not only affect the patient but also his family and friends. Through music therapy, specifically singing training, the individual will be able to acquire or even improve his singing skills. He will feel happy, motivated, and encouraged to continue the said therapy. As a result, it will also lessen the psychological and behavioral symptoms of dementia.

The Subjects of the Study

For the avoidance of heterogeneity of the symptoms, the researchers looked for 10 patients who are suffering from mild to moderate levels of Alzheimer’s disease. The patients are tasked to attend each music therapy session which was done once a week for a total duration of six months.

Each session lasts for a whole hour. Knowledgeable and professional caregivers were also available for the patients. Most importantly, the patients were in good condition. Another group of 10 patients were also recruited that will serve as the control group.

 Music Therapy Method

The session is divided into several parts. In the first 15 minutes, the researchers facilitated voice training to the patients. The YUBA method, a unique technological method for voice training, was included in this part. In the second 15 minutes, the songs that were practiced during the previous session were sung. For the next 20 minutes, a couple of familiar songs were practiced by the patients.

These songs differ in pitch range and difficulty. As the therapy went, the level of difficulty also increased. For the last 10 minutes, a recreation time was scheduled. During the said recreation time, songs from their own generations or their personal favorites were sung by the patients. Such recreation time allowed the patients to review those years when they were still young and productive. A karaoke machine was utilized for the last three sections of each session.

Half of the patients who participated in the study were also lent with karaoke machines for them to practice at their own homes. These patients are required to sing thrice a week for 20 minutes each. The caregivers recorded the data regarding the time spent for such home practice.

 The Results

All of the patients who have participated in the said study actually finished all of the sessions. No one dropped out. This just goes to show that the patients enjoyed each therapy session. Aside from that, 75 minutes per week were allotted by each patient, on average, to practice singing at home.

The caregivers also reported about changes in the behaviors of the patients. For instance, a number of the patients practiced the songs voluntarily. Some of them regained abilities to utilize phones and even recall names that they did not remember before the sessions. It can surely be concluded that singing training can surely improve the psychomotor speed of patients with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

You can read more about the study here.

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