Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is a movement disorder affecting the dopamine producing nerve cells in the brain. Over 100,000 Canadians are living with PD (retrieved from https://www.ucb-canada.ca/en/Patients/Conditions/Parkinson-s-Disease). A secondary symptom of PD is speech and vocal-facial communication impairments. Even in early stages of the disease, PD patients experience disruptions to speech volume, intelligibility, and dynamic expression. There are also disruptions that our group has documented in facial mimicry and perception of speech emotion (Livingstone et al., 2016). Singing works to strengthen the muscles that have been compromised as a result of the disease. In particular, singing engages the lungs, larynx, head, and facial muscles (Müller & Lindenberger, 2011; Thompson & Russo, 2007). Prior research suggests that 13 weeks of group singing can lead to a wide range of improvement in speech production, including improvements to maximum inspiratory/expiratory pressure, maximum duration of sustained vowel phonation, and vocal prosody (Di Benedetto, et al., 2009; Russo, 2016).
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