Parkinson’s disease can affect nearly every aspect of a person’s life, but new research shows that singing can be rehabilitative in more ways than one. Learn more below about the benefits of singing for the treatment of this disease.

Singing helps patients with Parkinson’s disease strengthen the muscles that control swallowing and respiratory function, according to Elizabeth Stegemoller, an assistant professor of kinesiology at Iowa State University.

Why? It’s because singing uses the same muscles you use to swallow and breathe, which are both affected by Parkinson's disease. Her research was published in Complementary Therapies in Medicine.

Image of a group of seniors singing around a piano

Stegemoller holds a weekly singing therapy class for Parkinson's disease patients where they do a lot of vocal exercises that focus on affected muscles.

"We also talk about proper breath support, posture and how we use the muscles involved with the vocal cords,” Stegemoller said in a news release. The people in Stegemoller’s class and their loved ones report improvements in mood, stress and depression with the singing therapy.

Parkinson's is a neuromuscular disease with symptoms that may include:

  • Tremors of the hands, arms, legs, jaw and face
  • Slowness of movement
  • Limb rigidity
  • Problems with balance and coordination

Nearly one million Americans live with the disease and currently there is no cure. Medication and surgery are used to help patients cope with the symptoms, according to the Parkinson's Disease Foundation.

Taking care of a loved one with Parkinson’s disease can be challenging, but help is available. More than 30 years ago, Kindred Healthcare pioneered the first hospitals in the nation to specialize in pulmonary care. Today, our hospital expertise continues to be pulmonary disease management and providing quality treatment.

If you have questions, we have answers. Call 1.866.KINDRED 24 hours a day, seven days a week to speak with a Registered Nurse who can share care options, help you find a nearby Kindred location, explain insurance and more.

Do you know someone with Parkinson’s disease? Share your experience with us.

By Craig Layne