FORT WAYNE, Ind.—Can live music ease the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease? That’s what the Fort Wayne Philharmonic and Indiana University–Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW) will find out in a groundbreaking research project, Music as Medicine.
At a news conference this morning (Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011) details of the project were discussed by Assistant Professor of Music and Director of IPFW’s Music Therapy Program, Nancy Jackson, and Pamela, Kelly, M.D., chair of The Phil’s Innovation Task Force.
According to Jackson and Kelly, there are plenty of personal stories that suggest live music might improve Parkinson’s symptoms like tremors, dyskinesia, and energy levels. However, there is no documented scientific evidence that this is really the case. “This is intended as a pilot study to explore whether live music has an effect upon the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease in order to find out if further, more specific study is warranted in the future,” said Jackson.
The Music as Medicine project is the initial effort of the Innovation Task Force and is a cooperative effort between IPFW’s Department of Music, Physician’s Health Plan, and the Fort Wayne Parkinson’s Support Group.
Members of the Fort Wayne Parkinson’s Support Group will attend three separate live performances given by small instrumental ensembles of The Phil this January, February, and March. The subjects will fill out rating scales before and after the performances which will provide information about the effect of the live music on six specific areas related to Parkinson’s disease. A statistical analysis of these ratings will be performed to determine if there is significant reason to explore the impact of music on Parkinson’s symptoms further, or if the anecdotal evidence from individuals is simply an anomaly.
The concerts, which are free and open to the public, will be held in the Rhinehart Recital Hall on the IPFW campus. The first concert is this Sunday, Jan. 16, and features The Phil’s Freimann Quartet, a string ensemble. The second concert, Sunday, Feb. 13, features The Phil’s Falcon Quartet, a woodwind ensemble, and the final concert, Sunday, March 6, features The Phil’s Brass Quintet. All three concerts begin at 3 p.m.