Lifewatch: Music therapy - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

3.01.09

Lifewatch: Music therapy

Reported by Claire Hosmann - email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

(WECT) - Researchers have long believed that playing word or number games could prevent the onset of dementia.

Now, researchers are adding music to the recipe to keeping the brain's circuitry alive and healthy.

Some older students are learning to play music to keep their spirits up during the bad economic times.

"They're developing hand-eye coordination so that they look at the note and then they put their hands on the keyboard and they associate the note and the key and what it does for their brain is it sparks some sort of a left brain, right brain connection," said instructor Michelle Barnyard.

Playing increases levels of "feel-good" hormones in the body, and activates the cerebellum.

One 81-year-old woman who had a stroke, increased the use of her fingers gradually over time.

"This training of the hand and the mind - the right and left side of the brain - has been a real boon to my mental acuity," said stroke patient Linda Empty.  "I feel I can handle it."

Luckily for older patients, the therapy is beneficial even if you can only use one or two fingers.

"With the two fingers and with the backgrounds, they can sound like they've always wanted to sound in six weeks, rather than six years," said Barnyard.

Patients experience fewer feelings of depression and loneliness and start feeling more alert.

To learn more about the music therapy program, click here.

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