How music can heal the brain for people with multiple sclerosis and other neurological conditions

Music can improve speech, memory and many aspects of brain function

Edi has been living with the physical and cognitive effects of multiple sclerosis (MS) for more than 30 years. During her treatment, she’s participated in many programs offered through the Norton Neuroscience Institute Resource Center. So when the center launched a “neuro choir” for patients with neurological disorders last fall, Edi decided to sign up.

“My mom always told me I sang off-key when I was little, so I thought this would be an opportunity to improve myself,” Edi said.

Edi and others gathered weekly at the Cressman Neurological Rehab Center on the Norton Brownsboro Hospital campus for choir practice. Some had musical backgrounds; others were singing in a group for the first time.

“It’s not about having an award-winning voice,” said Kerry Willis, music therapist and choir organizer. “Neuro choir serves an important role in fighting this debilitating disease on many levels.”

Music is a great form of therapy for people with neurological challenges because it activates a number of regions in the brain. It can help improve speech, memory and many aspects of brain function. The social aspect also is important.

“Studies show that interacting and connecting with others can greatly improve health,” Willis said. “Patients can come together through the power of music, find common bonds and build confidence in themselves. We’ve also found it strengthens the patient-caregiver bond, allowing both to be full participants in the same activity.”

In fact, Edi discovered her own unintended benefit that’s really made a difference in coping with MS.

“I have a really hard time taking pills because it’s tough to swallow,” she said. “But singing is helping that tremendously.”

After a 10-week run, the choir performed holiday carols for a local MS support group. They received a warm reception.

“Neuro choir shows that having a neurological condition doesn’t mean you can’t have fun and make an impact on others,” Willis said.

Neuro choir has started a new season

Interested in joining? The choir meets every Friday from 1 to 2 p.m. on the Norton Brownsboro Hospital campus in Norton Medical Plaza I, Suite 309.

Call for details and to register

(502) 559-3230

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