Music has been used for healing since the dawn of time. Though music is primarily used to help with mental health and emotional issues, it may also assist with physical ailments.
Many studies have been conducted on the effects of music therapy on patients with neurological diseases. One of the worst of these is Huntington’s Disease, which hinders every aspect of both mental and physical health. However, studies have shown that music therapy may help those with this disease and improve their well-being. Read on to learn more about Huntington’s Disease and how music therapy can help.
What Is Huntington’s Disease?
Huntington’s Disease (HD) is a genetic condition that breaks down nerve cells. The breakdown occurs slowly but impairs the brain and cognitive functioning. Furthermore, motor skills slowly deteriorate, and psychiatric disorders may develop, worsening the patient’s mental health and quality of life. It is a very serious disease that hinders every aspect of normal functioning.
Sadly, HD cannot be cured or prevented. If your parents have the disease, you are very likely to develop it as well. It typically shows up around middle age (30s or 40s) but can develop as early as childhood. Since the disease affects every aspect of health, those with HD live with a significantly reduced quality of life.
How Does Music Help?
Though this disease cannot be cured, there are strategies to cope and alleviate some of the pain it causes. Music therapy is often used to improve a person with HD’s emotional health and quality of life. Through the acts of dancing, playing an instrument, or just listening to music, the patient may see some improvements in motor skills, mental health, communication, and overall well-being.
Helps With Motor Skills
One of the heartbreaking side effects of HD is that the patient slowly loses their motor skills and becomes dependent on others for help. The tasks they could once do with ease, they now need help with because their body no longer works the way it should.
Music therapy is showing some promise of helping this. By playing music or dancing, some patients report better use of their motor skills. These activities can be used as a form of physical therapy, allowing the patients to use their bodies and keep them functioning normally for as long as possible.
However, research on this effect is quite limited, and it is not known for sure how helpful music therapy is. Furthermore, results are often dependent on how severe the condition is. Those in the early stages of the disease reported more benefits than those in the late stages. Nevertheless, music therapy may work as a form of physical therapy to potentially slow down the degeneration.
Eases Mental Health Conditions
Many people with HD live with psychological disorders and mental impairments. Mood disorders such as anxiety and depression are common occurrences. Furthermore, many HD patients live with behavioral disorders as a result of their cognitive decline.
Music has been known to assist with some of these issues and, therefore, may improve the mental well-being of a person with HD. Certain music can bring happiness and joy, which can help temporarily lift someone out of depression. Other music can be calming, which may ease anxiety. Good music can help the patient get in a more lightened mindset to further cope with this disease.
Acts As A Way Of Communication
As the disease progresses, patients with HD often lose the ability to verbally communicate with others. Music can act as a form of nonverbal communication. Creating music or listening to certain songs can indicate to others the thoughts and moods that they can no longer express on their own. This helps create bonding without words and can also help the patient express their needs, as they are often dependent on others for common tasks.
Improves Quality of Life
Music has a way of elevating moods and connecting people. It helps enhance well-being and quality of life, no matter what you are going through.
This is the greatest benefit of music therapy for patients with HD. These patients often report feeling better when incorporating music therapy into their lives, as they can more easily regulate their emotions and mental well-being.
Furthermore, music not only improves communication (as already discussed) but strengthens bonds. This is crucial to someone with HD, as they can often feel isolated or burdensome because of their condition. Music helps strengthen the bond between them and their loved ones, allowing for a healthy social life throughout all stages of the disease.
The effects of music therapy on HD have not been studied thoroughly. There is no conclusive evidence that it can assist patients with their disease, but the research looks promising. Though there are no cure or prevention methods, music therapy may still do wonders to someone living with HD.
If you have a loved one with HD, one of the best things you can do is incorporate music into their lives. Not only will music improve their well-being, but it will help strengthen the bond you share so they do not feel so alone.
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health-related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.