The Magic of Music

The Magic of Music

The graphic above was from an interesting article, Using music therapy to stimulate the brain can help address conditions ranging from PTSD to Parkinson’s. Click here to read the article on the website. Scroll down for details about music therapy for Parkinson’s offered in northern Virginia.

American Parkinson’s Disease Association (APDA)
Virginia Education Day – September 28, 2019

Here are my notes from the second session which was a discussion on
Understanding, Managing & Living with Parkinson’s Disease.

This session was moderated by Debbie Dellinger, NP with PADRECC in Richmond. PADRECC stands for Parkinson’s Disease Research, Education and Clinical Centers, and is part of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. On the panel there were three neurologists, a neurosurgeon and Armond Reich, APDA/Hamptom Roads Chapter President and Caregiver. For more information on the speakers, please click here.

Here’s a comment I thought was interesting –
Humans are the only species with Parkinson’s.

Diagnosis of Parkinson’s
Primary care providers usually diagnose Parkinson’s. It can take 4 years to see and be treated by a neurologist.
Why see a neurologist? For an accurate diagnosis, and because a neurologist will be familiar with new therapies and can integrate patients into multi-disciplinary team care.

Not all that shakes is Parkinson’s.
Another memorable comment!

The best way to diagnose Parkinson’s is to talk to patients and try to understand them with the help of a good history, physical exam, and the help of care partner input.
Something that neurologists consider when making a diagnosis is, are the symptoms Parkinson’s or mimics? Mimics may look like Parkinson’s but are not Parkinson’s.
There is no blood draw or scan to help diagnose. There is a DaTscan, but it doesn’t differentiate between Parkinson’s and mimics. You can find more information about the DaTscan on the APDA website – click here.
As the disease progresses, changes may lead to Parkinsonisms.
Neurologists will probably order more therapy and exercise than lab results.

The timeline for dementia is not predictable and is an active area of research.
Parkinson’s has it’s own fingerprint.
Bradyphrenia is the slowing of mental processing. Memories are not forgotten, just slow.
Is it possible that dementia can be reversed? Possibly, because it may be caused by low levels of B12, thyroid issues, depression and lack of sleep. Neuropsychiatric testing may help to pinpoint the cause. It is helpful to exercise the mind and the body.

What are medical and surgical options for treating Parkinson’s?
Medications treat the symptoms but don’t halt progression of the disease. Adjustments will always be required as the disease progresses. If the symptoms aren’t bothersome, there may be no need for medications.
Medications are tailored to the symptoms but cost can be an issue, and it is important to take other medications that interact into consideration. Different manufacturers have different formulas and some people can be sensitive to the manufacturer. Over time, other medications may be required.
The doctor should ask about non-movement symptoms such as constipation, mood, and drooling.

Who is a candidate for Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) and when?
A patient who is 4 years past diagnosis, based on his/her goals and expectations for quality of life. Also if tremor is not being helped with medications. DBS will not directly improve gait and balance. There are new systems that can self-adjust, with more innovations in the works. If you are interested, it is helpful to talk to patients who have had it done.

Suggestions for living well with Parkinson’s
I’m sure you’ve heard this one before . . .exercise and therapy!!!
If you get stiff when exercising – be patient with yourself.
When you’re looking for a physical therapist, be sure to choose one who knows how to work with people with Parkinson’s.

The Inova Narang Foundation Active Living and Fitness Program is offering two new classes for people living with Parkinson’s and other movement disorders. I’m so excited about the singing class and I love the name – Neuro Notes! To gauge interest, they are initially offering two free classes with the intention of starting regular classes for a fee in the new year. If you are interested, and unable to attend either of the classes below, please send me an email at, and I can keep you updated about future classes.

Neuro Notes: Music for the Mind
free 90 minute trial session
Thursday, November 7 or Thursday December 5
from 12:30 pm – 2:00 pm

At: 8100 Innovation Park Drive, conference Room N4, Fairfax, VA 22301
Singing  |  Rhythmic Exercises  |  Music Listening
Singing can enhance voice volume and quality as well as improve respiration and swallowing. Music may also improve mood and cognitive function. The group music experience is also a great way to socialize!
Instructor: Toni Sweitzer, MMT, MT-BC, Co-founder and Creative Director of A Place to Be.
Questions? Contact
To register, click here, then scroll down to Exercise for Life, and click on the down arrow next to Neuro Notes.

There is also a trial Parkinson’s dance class underway. One class has already been held, but if you are interested in attending the rest of the classes in this session, or in future classes, please email me at I’ll connect you with the organizers.
Dance for Parkinson’s
October 9 – November 4
Wednesdays from 11:00 – 12:00 pm

At: 8100 Innovation Park Drive, lower level, Fairfax, VA 22301
Instructor: Lucy Bowen McCauley, Certified Dance for PD® Teaching Artist, Bowen McCauley

Here are details for another Parkinson’s music therapy class. You may remember when Capital Music Therapy Services held a class in late August.
Saturday Song and Social – Parkinson’s Music Therapy Group
Saturday, October 19, 4:30 pm – 5:30 pm

At: Capital Music Therapy Services
10560 Main St., LL-12, Fairfax
Cost: $20 per person paid on the day of the group. Cash or check. Spouses attend for free!
Registration deadline: Friday, October 18
For details RSVP: or click here.

Caring for our Caregivers
PSN’s annual caregiver’s appreciation luncheon is filling up fast! Click here for details and to register (scroll down on the page) on our website, or click here to download the flyer and share with your Parkinson family caregiver friends.

Cafe Ashburn – slight changes for our October 23 meeting
There is a slight change in time for our cafe this month. We will meet from 11:30 am – 1:30 pm. This is because we are joining a local networking group, Loudoun Senior Interest Network, to hear the new Inova Movement Disorders Specialist, Dr. David Whitney, give his presentation on recent updates in Parkinson’s treatments.
Please RSVP as soon as possible so I can give Waltonwood the numbers to help them plan.

I hope this newsletter is helpful and we’ll see you Out & About soon! It’s Cafe Fairfax this week and Courtney is coming to see us again to talk about emergency preparedness. Hope to see you there!


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