By Diana Rossetti
CantonRep.com staff report
Posted Jun 18, 2009 @ 08:09 PM
"The onset of Parkinson’s disease changed Robert Joy’s life, drastically narrowing his horizons. The chronic, progressive disorder of the nervous system stole his mobility and makes communication difficult.
The retired Republic Steel dispatcher’s beloved avocation was music. For years, he played upright bass in area bands on weekends.
The tremors produced by Parkinson’s disease made performing, even playing for pleasure, a distant memory.
Now, music therapy has helped him reconnect with his past and stay connected with his family.
Every two weeks, board-certified music therapist Brenda Wise, guitar in hand, spends an hour with Joy, 81, and a revolving cast of family members at Meadow Wind Health Care in Massillon. Wise is employed by In-House Hospice, headquartered in Macedonia.
“He really lights up with the music he loves,” said Wise, who probes Joy’s particular interests and memories through conversations with him and his family.
Often, she leaves a session with new songs from his decades-long repertoire, songs she may not know but will research and play for him at their next meeting.
“We do a lot of reminiscing because music has been such a large part of his life,” Wise said. “‘Sentimental Journey’ seems to renew old memories and kind of sums up our visits in a lot of ways.”
With other patients, Wise said music therapy can be customized to complement pain management treatment and to decrease anxiety.
Cindy Espenschied, one of Joy’s five daughters, said Wise “picks up on things he’s saying. Music is his own language.”
“You never know what is going to come up. He’ll say, ‘I like “The Girl from Ipanema,’ ” and she did that for him last time. We sing along. In fact, the family likes to be there for music therapy because it’s the best way we can communicate with him,” she said. “It’s such a positive experience. You have to think, if he responds to music maybe another patient might respond to art.”
WHAT IS MUSIC THERAPY?
Studies have shown that music interventions by qualified professionals can promote wellness, manage stress, alleviate pain, enhance memory, improve communication and provide opportunities for interaction among a variety of patients, including those with dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Because it is a non-threatening, sensory stimulating medium, music therapy has been proven to increase patient motivation to engage in treatment.
“In the area of neurological rehabilitation such as Parkinson’s disease and dementia, there’s a lot of cutting-edge research and techniques being developed,” said Al Bumanis, director of communications for the American Music Therapy Association based in Silver Spring, Md. His organization has 5,000 members.
For more information, visit the Web at musictherapy.org." (CantonRep.com)