Many Parkinson’s fighters turn to art and enjoy the therapeutic effects and satisfaction it can bring to life. Apart from improving motor skills and reducing the tremors and muscle stiffness, Art seems to help Parkinson’s fighters by working on the subconscious, stimulating the imagination and promoting a sense of inner peace. Although the mechanism for these positive changes is still unclear, the important thing is to take advantage of these opportunities.
Finding something you enjoy allows you to relax and perhaps even helps you potentially manage Parkinson’s symptoms. Let’s understand how.
1. Sketching and Painting
Art making is an activity in which the Parkinson’s fighter can experience choice (through color, medium, line, subject matter) and feel that he has control over his creation. And, the good news is that art making is enjoyable, and there are no such rights and wrongs in sketching and painting.
Art making increases bilateral activity in the brain. This means while drawing and painting, you use both hemispheres of your brain. Creating art can have a calming and uplifting effect. However, looking at art can be just as therapeutic for those who are limited either physically or cognitively and cannot produce art themselves. After all, enjoying and reacting to other’s artwork can provide an outlet for your own emotions.
Approximately 70% of Parkinson’s fighters are affected by tremors that can be exacerbated by stress. So how do we manage them? By promoting relaxation, of course. Art making can lower blood pressure, slow down breathing and calm the central nervous system. When you are deeply engrossed in sketching and painting, the focus shifts to creating novel motions, and you are also less likely to freeze.
Singing has been found to help Parkinson’s fighters improve their voice strength and volume. It can also be very helpful in improving speech that has gone slurred due to Parkinson’s. Breathing and vocal techniques used while singing can help with:
- sustaining the voice
- varying pitch and expression
- improving diction and fluidity of diction
- increasing and controlling volume
- controlling the vocal speed
Now, it can be understood why the number of informal singing groups for people with Parkinson’s has been growing, given the benefits.
Dance engages us in a process which enhances emotional, cognitive, physical and social well-being. It reflects an individual’s feelings and thinking pattern, and can be used to express and explore emotional and creative experiences.
Many studies have found that dance helps Parkinson’s fighters improve their balance. And moving to a rhythm helps avoid freezing episodes. It may also improve posture, and balance, particularly if you follow a warm-up routine. Becoming a member of a Dance Movement Therapy (DMT) group can also be a valuable social activity, helping the Parkinson’s fighter overcome depression or anxiety.
Parkinson’s fighters with manageable tremors find writing very therapeutic for many reasons. Exercising concentration, memory, executive functions, and hand-eye coordination, writing can take many forms – poetry, short stories or long essays. The best part is no special skills or experience is needed – just a willingness to express your thoughts and experiences, whether real or fictitious.
Such freeing experience can encourage spontaneity which can, in turn, improve confidence. It can potentially lower blood pressure, reduce perseverative thoughts, and lift depression in Parkinson’s.
5. Playing a Musical Instrument
Music therapy uses music to help an individual with physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs at any age. Playing an instrument can help improve the quality of life for people with Parkinson’s by:
- promoting a sense of well-being
- reducing stress
- improving verbal and non-verbal communication
- improving memory
- understanding Rhythm
By focusing on rhythm and feeling its beat, many people notice improvements in Bradykinesia, gait, difficulty initiating a movement, and freezing. Creating music can also help you overcome non-motor symptoms, such as depression, anxiety, providing an opportunity for self-expression and social interaction at the same time.
To be inspired, listen to a variety of instrumentals and find which one stimulates and uplifts you the most. Build up a collection of music that helps you recall happy memories. To make the most of the experience, sing while you play to help keep your voice strong.