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[back] Music's the best medicine Rajini Dhillon (The Malay Mail) - 15 June 2010

Music's the best medicine

Association fights Parkinson's disease rhythmically through 'drum circles'
Tuesday, June 15th, 2010 10:21:00

PERFECT CIRCLE: Staff and members of MPDA

KUALA LUMPUR: Rajeswari Sinnathamby, 72, suffers from Parkinson's disease, a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system. She used to be a recluse and had difficulty expressing herself.

Her brother, Ravichandran, said: "She used to feel insecure about having Parkinson's and was concerned about what people would say about it." All that changed when she joined the Malaysian Parkinson's Disease Association (MPDA) a year ago. Every week, the MPDA conducts a "drum circle" session at its Parkinson Center at Happy Garden in KL. The drum circle is a form of rhythmic therapy in which members are given drums and other musical instruments to play.

Ravichandran said: "My sister has improved a lot from her involvement in the drum circles. We now not only see her interacting with people, she also laughs and shows her emotions more."

Another member, Tung Kai Seng, 56, has had Parkinson's for almost a decade. "Apart from other activities, the drum circles have helped me a lot. It gives me exercise and a sense of happiness. After every session, I am in a happy mood all day long."

MPDA president Sara Lew Lai Heong first learnt of the rhythmic therapy a year ago during a World Parkinson's Day function at the Petaling Jaya City Council headquarters.

Lew then met Muhaini Musa, a trainer, consultant and community service volunteer. Both learnt how to conduct rhythmic therapy and introduced it to MPDA members six months ago.

Since then, the drum circle has become a weekly session led by Muhaini and they have also brought together family members of those inflicted with Parkinson's.

The pioneer of rhythmic therapy is Arthur Hill from California, who has been a drum circle facilitator for 45 years. He believes this therapy can improve human interaction for those with Parkinson's.

"When played, the vibrations from the drums and percussions bypasses everything that may not be working and goes straight to the heart. It gives 'exercise' to the brain and body and makes those with Parkinson's alert, thus helping to fight the progression of this disease," said Hill during a recent visit here in which he commended MPDA facilitators and members for their dedication to the cause.

A perfect example of this is Rajeswari who used to have severe tremors on both hands, but now happily plays the drums with one hand, and having achieved almost perfect rhythm.

Source URL: http://www.mmail.com.my/content/39845-musics-best-medicine