The Sweet-Sounding Benefits Music Has for Kids with Muscular Dystrophy
Muscular dystrophy is the condition characterized by the muscles, particularly skeletal muscles, which are badly nourished. This would eventually lead to their weakening and degeneration over time, leaving those who suffer from it in a wheelchair for the rest of their life. Muscular dystrophy is caused by a genetic mutation and it is not something that can result from an injury or an activity, and many kids who have this condition can show little to no symptoms during the first few years of their life. In some cases, kids do not exhibit any symptoms until the age of five.
Currently, there is no available cure for muscular dystrophy, but there are certain treatment that may be employed to help a kid with muscular dystrophy lead as normal a life as they possibly can have. Music, though not exactly a medical treatment, is just one of the ways some kids can cope with this condition.
Music is characterized by harmonized sounds that are pleasant to the ears. The sounds may be in the form of vocals, from musical instruments, or a combination of both, mixed in such a way as to produce nice arrangements and the expression of emotion. Since as far back as 1956, researchers have been carrying out pilot studies to determine the value of music for kids with muscular dystrophy, 1 and the results of those studies are quite astounding, especially in the areas of well-being and management.
Music can be of great value and has been shown to significantly provide relief from stress and pain and to improve memory, physical balance, and emotional well-being. Music has been employed in many ways by therapists in the management of various diseases. Sometimes, patients would be asked to sing along to the music and at other times, they may just be asked to relax and listen to the music as it plays. Sometimes, the active participation and body movements may be required. Some of the areas where music is of great value in helping kids with muscular dystrophy lead a full life are highlighted and explained here:
Development of motor skills
Kids with muscular dystrophy are at a higher risk of developmental delays in both fine and gross motor dexterity whereas active participation in musical activities has been found to aid the development of both fine and gross motor skills. For example, development of gross motor skills such as sitting, walking, and running can be aided by moving to the music while developing fine motor skills, such as the movement of individual fingers, which can be aided by playing musical instruments like the piano.
Some kids with muscular dystrophy are unable or find it difficult to relax their muscles at will, a condition known as myotonia. Music may be of great value here, especially in case of independent self-care, as it can be used to assist the process of relaxation and teach relaxation skills.2 Also, some sort of bodily pain and discomfort may be experienced by kids with dystrophy. Researchers found that such pains are caused by moderate residual tension that can be relieved by progressive muscle relaxation,3 a procedure which can be assisted by music, especially with more classical pieces of music.