Can Musical Tones Played in the Ear Help With Gait-Freezing in Parkinson’s Patients?

Parkinson’s Disease is the second most common degenerative neurological disorder. The incidence of Parkinson’s Disease, let’s called it PD for short, is growing rapidly with an aging population. The fundamental cause of PD is the death of nerve cells that produce a chemical called dopamine. The loss of these dopamine producing cells occurs in a part of the brain known generally as the basal ganglia and specifically the substantia nigra.

This part of the brain, the basal ganglia, is known to influence movement and diseases or injury of the basal ganglia produces what are known collectively as movement disorders which include Parkinson’s Disease. Parkinson’s Disease is characterized by slow movements known as bradykinesia (brady = slow, kinesis = movements), tremor and other signs of abnormal muscle function. One of the more disturbing symptoms that can occur in patients suffering with PD is called freezing of gait.

Voluntary movement takes place in two basic steps. To move we create the intention to move in one part of the brain. Thus one part of the brain plans the movement and the actual movement commands that activate the muscles occur in a different part of the brain. So we plan a movement and that plan is carried out by other circuits in the brain which then execute that plan.

In many patients with Parkinson’s Disease, planned movements like walking have delayed or failed execution. This is called Freezing-of-gait and it can severely diminish the quality of life in a Parkinson’s patient. Although we call this symptom freezing of gait, it can actually occur with any voluntary movement, like reaching for a glass, brushing your hair or getting up from a seated position to stand. It often leaves the Parkinson’s patient unable to initiate a movement or stuck in the middle of a planned action. It should not be hard for you to imagine how freezing might severely diminish a patient’s functional abilities and interfere with his or her daily activities.

Not surprisingly, freezing has also been linked to falls and injuries in PD patients.

The medical treatments for PD include drugs that replace the dopamine that is lost with degeneration of the substantia nigra. As a general rule dopamine replacement therapies are quite effective for patients suffering with PD with two notable exceptions:

  1. They usually are not particularly effective for freezing-type symptoms and
  2. They usually loose their effectiveness over time

A number of research groups believe they have identified the specific part of the brain which malfunctions and causes freezing symptoms in Parkinson’s patients. It is known as the pedunculopontine nucleus (let’s call it the PPN for short) in the brainstem. This has lead to a number of trials of electrical stimulation of the PPN through the use of surgically implanted deep brain electrodes. There are a growing number of reports that suggest that electrical stimulation of the PPN may produce promising results for patients in the advanced stages of Parkinson’s Disease. This technique appears to activate the PPN and results in reduced gait-freezing in patients suffering from Parkinson’s Disease. While this is a promising surgical procedure, it does however, require brain surgery and all of the associated risks.

If only there was a way to stimulate the PPN in the brainstem non-invasively.

Some recent research suggests that non-surgical PPN stimulation may now be possible. What is even more encouraging is the possibility of stimulating the PNN and reducing freezing through the use of musical tones played through special bone conducting headphones. Let’s see how this might work.

Research has shown that structures in the inner ear called otoliths can be stimulated by tones of highly specific frequencies. These inner ear structures have direct connections with the PPN which as we have discussed are important brainstem structures related to freezing symptoms in Parkinson’s Disease. Stimulating the otoliths with a tone played through special bone-conducting headphones may activate the PPN and has the potential to reduce gait-freezing in patients suffering from Parkinson’s Disease. Other research suggests that neurological rehabilitation and cueing patients with auditory or visual signals can improve freezing symptoms in PD patients. Thus there is the potential to improve freezing of gait through the combination of rehabilitation with auditory cueing using sound frequencies known to stimulate the PPN which is implicated in freezing of gait in PD.

This is very encouraging news for patients suffering from gait freezing associated with Parkinson’s Disease.

High School Musical Solus – Play It! Sing It!

Sony’s PlayStation has its own appeal and its own niche consumers. When it was introduced in the market, owning one used to be a status symbol. The prices were high but the rage it created couldn’t be tempered down. The games that it came out with became super successful and its characters became cult figures.

For the first time on any gaming console, fans are being allowed to interact with the movie’s characters High School Musical: Sing It! The fans of the movie get to feel the real experience of being an intrinsic part of the musical. Creativity and skills of the players are tested as they get to mix and match their favourite movie characters, scenes and songs to themselves attain the star status. Getting to interact with your movie stars is one USP that makes this game the ultimate choice of all PS lovers. Meant for the entire family, the High School Musical Solus features motion-captured-choreography from the original movie’s dance routines.

The players are offered the option of three play modes- story, party and QuickPlay. The fans get to chose characters from amongst their favourite stars in the movie, viz. Gabriella, Troy, Ryan, Chad or Taylor. The game features super hit songs from the movie in solo or duet, such as Something New’ and ‘We’re All in this Together”. The story mode enables the players to live the movie through song and dance. Friends get to compete against each other in the party mode. And in the QuickPlay mode players can participate and become a part of any song, and choose from any character, environment or outfit that they have unlocked.

Features of the High School Musical Solus (PS)—

  1. You can Sing and dance to all the songs from ‘High School Musical,’ ‘High School Musical 2’ and other popular tracks by the Disney Channel stars
  2. The game includes motion-captured choreography from the original movie
  3. The players get to choose their favorite scenes from the original ‘High School Musical’ movie
  4. Perform in either duet or solo mode
  5. Choose from 3 modes available-Story, Party or Quickplay Mode
  6. The PS2 version is compatible with SingStar technology

Music To Play At Your Wedding Reception

The dance music is probably the most enjoyable aspect of your wedding reception. When it comes to choosing the dance music for your wedding day, you will have to decide whether you want the services of a band or a DJ.

If you are having a church wedding, then you could sit down with your minister to decide on the kind of music you want for the three main components of the wedding ceremony: the recessional, prelude, processional and signing of the register.

When it comes to choosing the music for your wedding, it’s always best to make the choice based on the type of guests that will be going to the wedding. One option that you could go with would be to have a mix of party songs and romantic melodies.

It’s traditional for the bride and grooms to take to the dance floor for the waltz. Then the groom is expected to dance with the mother-in-law and then his own mother. The bride on the other hand dances with the father-in-law and then her own father. The best man is expected to dance with the chief bridesmaid. The other bridesmaids at the wedding would typically join hands with all the ushers. The guests are later to follow.

You could opt for a band that will play the more favoured music, which could be alternated with a disc jockey that would play all the dance songs. The live bands responsibility could be to play all the slow songs and the setting of the mood for all the faster paced tracks by the DJ. DJs are typically cheaper to hire than bands.