Neurologist Alexander Pantelyat, M.D., who is also a talented violinist, aims to make music and rhythm an integral part of treating illness. His studies have shown that interventions such as singing can improve mood, speech, and swallowing in patients with Parkinson’s disease. Similarly, patients with Parkinson’s and their caregivers who participate together in sessions of West African drumming have showed improved quality of life. More recently, in a pilot study of patients with severe (atypical) PD and poor gait, Pantelyat showed that walking to a march-like beat resulted in improved gait and balance — benefits that carried over even after the music stopped. He is working now with a Boston-based company to develop a wearable device — a sensor on the shoe linked to a phone app with a playlist of favorite tunes — that will adjust the music’s tempo to the wearer’s gait. The goal: to give patients with Parkinson’s and other aging-related conditions the opportunity to walk their way to better health at home. Pantelyat is the Alafouzos Family CIM HAP Scholar.
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