Singing to help symptoms: 15 week program for Parkinson's patients seeks participants
Published Wednesday, August 15, 2018 3:51PM CST
Last Updated Wednesday, August 15, 2018 5:53PM CST
When Gary Dikkema walks, his focus is on swinging his arms. It's one way he manages the symptoms of Parkinson’s.
He was diagnosed in 2016 after feeling some pain in his shoulders and back while working on his backyard patio.
"I am really lucky,” he said. “I have no tremors. People don't believe me when I say I don’t have tremors, but I have the problem with my voice."
In his case, a soft voice is the most noticeable symptom of the degenerative disease.
To help he joined a group singing class with music therapy student Heitha Forsyth last spring.
"It really is the perfect way to work out your speaking apparatus because it focuses on everything from breathing, to coordination of speech, to projection," said Forsyth, a musician and music therapy student at Canadian Mennonite University.
Now she is set to start another choral singing class called U-tunes.
She is looking for 15 people to sign up to sing together once a week starting in September.
Forsyth said the classes include vocal and physical warm-ups and targeted therapies all under the guise of the fun and community-oriented act of singing.
"It allows them to go past this disease and continue to be human and to continue to connect, "she said.
The group, organized through U-Turn Parkinson’s, will also be a part of research.
U-tunes is partnering with Ryerson University to look into the physical and emotional effects of group singing in people living with Parkinson’s over the course of the class.
"They're going to see how singing leads to certain hormone secretion to relieve stress and then they're also going to do some qualitative research asking people, sort of, how they feel after they've been involved in their community by doing this exercise of group singing," said Forsyth.
Dikkema says singing is a real full body work out and doing it with a group where everyone has Parkinson’s in common is even better.
"It's all good and it’s working our voice which is so important, which most of the time I don’t work my voice like I do in an hour and a half session of singing."
Forsyth said the class will be on Tuesday afternoons starting September 11th, from 1:30 to 3 p.m. at Crescentwood Community Centre.
People can register online.
The 15 week program is $75 and caregivers and spouses are welcome.