WPC Roving Reporters: Day Two Science

The 2nd World Parkinson Congress continues its three days of sessions discussing the latest news in Parkinson’s science and care. PDF’s reporters have been listening in to a variety of these sessions. They are reporting back what they have seen and heard….and sharing the most important messages they are hearing as people living with Parkinson’s.

Please note that this post was updated on October 5.

Kate Kelsall
Attended: Music as Pleasure and How It Can Empower You
Presenter: Concetta (Connie) Tomaino, D.A., MT-BC, LCAT, Executive Director of the Institute for Music and Neurologic Function in the Bronx, New York

“Some of the points in Connie’s presentation included:

  • We all experience music, but we all feel the beat differently.
  • The importance of singing songs one knows well to cue yourself (she sang “You are my ____”; the audience filled in the blank with SUNSHINE).
  • The prosody (rhythm, stress and the intonation) of singing matches that of the voice.
  • Songs can promote memory retrieval of past events that are associated with certain songs.
  • Music and songs can help with psychological issues such as depression or fatigue.
  • Choose music to move by and choose different music to lull yourself to sleep.
  • People with Parkinson’s have difficulty with articulation and lack of breath support. Singing can help with these issues. She illustrated with the song “Amen,” noting she was able to help her patients increase their breath support from three syllables to 19 syllables.”

Learn More:
Find resources on music and PD
Watch Ms. Tomaino’s video presentation from PDF 2009 educational seminar


Jackie Hunt Christensen

Attended: Non-Motor Symptoms: Sleep, Pain, and Autonomic Dysfunction

“This session gave scientific validation to symptoms that many of us with Parkinson’s disease have been experiencing for years, often without acknowledgment from our physicians. Treatments haven’t been identified for most of these problems, but having them recognized as real phenomena that Parkinson’s disease may cause for some patients is a giant step in the right direction toward better patient care.

  • Sleep issues: It is estimated that 90% of people with PD will experience some sort of “sleep disturbance.” These can include reduced sleep; sleep fragmentation (waking up a lot during the night); Rapid Eye Movement (REM) Sleep Behavior Disorder (acting out our dreams, such as kicking, punching, screaming); or excessive daytime sleepiness. Some of these conditions can be worsened by PD medications.
  • Pain: Two-thirds of PD patients report pain that is directly related to their PD symptoms. This pain can occur in arms, legs, back, shoulders and usually occurs on the side of the body most affected by PD. It may improve after PD drugs are begun. Some people with PD may feel pain in a situation or experience that is painless for those without Parkinson’s. Others may feel extreme pain when people without PD feel only mild discomfort.
  • Autonomic dysfunction: The autonomic nervous system regulates “automatic” body functions. For those of us with Parkinson’s disease, autonomic dysfunction can include bladder problems; constipation; sexual dysfunction – in both women and men, excessive sweating, and sensitivity to cold.”

Learn More:
Find resources for nonmotor symptoms in PD
Watch PDF’s online seminar on nonmotor symptoms

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