Can Musical Tones Played in the Ear Help With Gait-Freezing in Parkinson’s Patients?

Parkinson’s Disease is the second most common degenerative neurological disorder. The incidence of Parkinson’s Disease, let’s called it PD for short, is growing rapidly with an aging population. The fundamental cause of PD is the death of nerve cells that produce a chemical called dopamine. The loss of these dopamine producing cells occurs in a part of the brain known generally as the basal ganglia and specifically the substantia nigra.

This part of the brain, the basal ganglia, is known to influence movement and diseases or injury of the basal ganglia produces what are known collectively as movement disorders which include Parkinson’s Disease. Parkinson’s Disease is characterized by slow movements known as bradykinesia (brady = slow, kinesis = movements), tremor and other signs of abnormal muscle function. One of the more disturbing symptoms that can occur in patients suffering with PD is called freezing of gait.

Voluntary movement takes place in two basic steps. To move we create the intention to move in one part of the brain. Thus one part of the brain plans the movement and the actual movement commands that activate the muscles occur in a different part of the brain. So we plan a movement and that plan is carried out by other circuits in the brain which then execute that plan.

In many patients with Parkinson’s Disease, planned movements like walking have delayed or failed execution. This is called Freezing-of-gait and it can severely diminish the quality of life in a Parkinson’s patient. Although we call this symptom freezing of gait, it can actually occur with any voluntary movement, like reaching for a glass, brushing your hair or getting up from a seated position to stand. It often leaves the Parkinson’s patient unable to initiate a movement or stuck in the middle of a planned action. It should not be hard for you to imagine how freezing might severely diminish a patient’s functional abilities and interfere with his or her daily activities.

Not surprisingly, freezing has also been linked to falls and injuries in PD patients.

The medical treatments for PD include drugs that replace the dopamine that is lost with degeneration of the substantia nigra. As a general rule dopamine replacement therapies are quite effective for patients suffering with PD with two notable exceptions:

  1. They usually are not particularly effective for freezing-type symptoms and
  2. They usually loose their effectiveness over time

A number of research groups believe they have identified the specific part of the brain which malfunctions and causes freezing symptoms in Parkinson’s patients. It is known as the pedunculopontine nucleus (let’s call it the PPN for short) in the brainstem. This has lead to a number of trials of electrical stimulation of the PPN through the use of surgically implanted deep brain electrodes. There are a growing number of reports that suggest that electrical stimulation of the PPN may produce promising results for patients in the advanced stages of Parkinson’s Disease. This technique appears to activate the PPN and results in reduced gait-freezing in patients suffering from Parkinson’s Disease. While this is a promising surgical procedure, it does however, require brain surgery and all of the associated risks.

If only there was a way to stimulate the PPN in the brainstem non-invasively.

Some recent research suggests that non-surgical PPN stimulation may now be possible. What is even more encouraging is the possibility of stimulating the PNN and reducing freezing through the use of musical tones played through special bone conducting headphones. Let’s see how this might work.

Research has shown that structures in the inner ear called otoliths can be stimulated by tones of highly specific frequencies. These inner ear structures have direct connections with the PPN which as we have discussed are important brainstem structures related to freezing symptoms in Parkinson’s Disease. Stimulating the otoliths with a tone played through special bone-conducting headphones may activate the PPN and has the potential to reduce gait-freezing in patients suffering from Parkinson’s Disease. Other research suggests that neurological rehabilitation and cueing patients with auditory or visual signals can improve freezing symptoms in PD patients. Thus there is the potential to improve freezing of gait through the combination of rehabilitation with auditory cueing using sound frequencies known to stimulate the PPN which is implicated in freezing of gait in PD.

This is very encouraging news for patients suffering from gait freezing associated with Parkinson’s Disease.

Where You Can Find Music Videos Online

Music videos are now accessible to millions of Americans, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. YouTube, a leading viral video site, offers all of your favorite artists; old, new, unsigned and international! For some artists, the exposure is amazing. For others, the copyright infringement can’t seem to be stopped. Yet the fans find that the free clips truly embody all that’s great about the internet! There are many types of musical videos for your viewing pleasure, and they are just a mouse-click away.

Have you dreamt of being on American Idol? Do you write or perform your own music and wish to be discovered? Well, posting your original music videos on YouTube just might make you world-famous! Just ask Chris Crocker, whose rants about Britney Spears scored him a spot in Weezer’s latest music video. Then there’s Terra Naomi, whose YouTube music clips earned her a recording contract with Island Records. Similarly, unknown artist Esmee Denters toured with Justin Timberlake, following his viral video debut!

Before attending a live concert, nothing will pump you up more than watching music videos from that band! Or perhaps you’d like to revisit your childhood and have an “80s music video marathon!” Have a crush on a singer? You can drool over the MySpace videos or even embed it into your social networking profile!

If you missed Coldplay performing on The Colbert Report, then don’t fret because YouTube will have it! Perhaps you were a big fan of the Henry Rollins Show or TRL, of which you can also watch free episodes of online. There are countless reasons why you might need to get your music video fix.

MySpace videos are picking up steam, but still lag behind the more established YouTube selection. If you want to post a video on your MySpace profile, then it doesn’t really matter which site you pull the video codes from, as they both work essentially the same way. There are also third party sites, like “Pimp MySpace”, that allow you to snag music for your site.

To add music videos to your site, you’ll need the code with the words, not just the URL. Just highlight and cut the entire code, go into your MySpace editor and paste the code into one of your windows. A good place to add music is in the “favorite music” section, but you may also choose to add it under “heroes,” “television,” “general” or “about me.”

Unlimited Music Downloads – 4 Tips to Sniff Out the Best Download Site

Anyone can now head over to an online music service for unlimited music downloads. Owners of iPods, Zunes and other MP3 players are finding it really easy to get music to feed their devices. The beauty of music sites is that it allows you to download songs, soundtracks and music regardless of where you are as long as your computer is connected to the internet.

We are not going to dwell too much about free sites that let you download music online for free due to the host of problems. There are just too many risks involved in getting songs from there. You may end up with unreadable copies of music or in worst case scenarios; the music files you download expose your computer to damage when the adware and spyware attacks.

Naturally, the ideal choice is still to go along with membership services for unlimited music downloads. They run a tight ship and charge reasonable one-off fees while providing a wide selection of music from R&B, Latin, Rock, Pop to Classical and Contemporary music. But there are too many choices so learn these 4 tips that would teach you to select a good service.

1. Pricing of Paid Membership

Paid membership sites are letting members or subscribers to access as much MP3s as they wish for a lifetime fee, one-year or two-year fee. In case you think that it is costly, it is not and for less than $39.99, you can easily find one. Do not pay more than this amount as even the most popular service hardly charges anything more.

2. Choice of Media Files

Even though music is what you are looking for, do not be surprised when some sites offer you movies as well. The more established sites are adding value to their services by also bringing in videos, TV shows, movies like 300, Transformers, Spiderman 3 and so on. This is truly value for money!

3. Music Genres

The music services offer you many genres when you download music online at these places. Like what was mentioned, sites with unlimited music downloads offer Rock, Jazz, Pop, R&B and many other niche music. So if you are looking for a special “brand” of music, check out if they do offer.

4. Quality Site Setup

On top of what was mentioned above, you do want to know if the service is setup professionally. By that, it means that their customer and technical support must be competent and available when you need it ie 24/7 if possible. They also need to provide clear step-by-step instructions on how to download music online as well as incorporate high speed downloads.

These are the more crucial factors to look out for when shopping for a place for unlimited music downloads. If you are keen, you may wish to find out more information about the top few services in the market at my music blog.

How Fast Should A Piece Of Music Be Played

The tempo of a piece of music is the speed at which it should be played and is an important part of playing music properly. Imagine if you played God Save the Queen for example at twice the speed for example, it just wouldn’t have the same solemnity and Happy Birthday at half speed wouldn’t be such a cheerful thing. Plus of course if you are playing in a group it is imperative that you all play at the same speed or it just sounds like a mess. The tempo is therefore decided upon by the composer and written on the music for musicians to follow.

Often this is indicated above the stave (the five lines upon which music is written) by a note followed by an equal sign and a number. This shows the number of notes in a minute. So if the note shown is a crotchet (a note a single beat long which can also be called a quarter note) then = 120, you know that the speed it should be played at is 120 single beats per minute or 2 a second. Or if it was a minim (a two beat note which can also be called a half note) then = 30 you know that there are 30 mimims to a minute, or 1 minim every 2 seconds.

However, sometimes tempo is not described in this way but by a written, usually single word, description. Occasionally this will be written in English, simply ‘fast’ for example but much more often it will be written in Italian. Some examples are given below.

Adagio – Slow

Allegro – Fast

Allegro non Troppo – not too fast

Andante – Walking tempo

Con Brio – with movement

Giocoso – Playful

Largo – Very slow

Lento – Slow

Moderato – Moderately

Presto – Very quick

You will also get add on words to these such as Molto – Very, Un Poco – a little. So Molto Lento means play very slowly.

Then there are words which describe a change to the tempo for example,

Rallantando – which means to gradually slow down and Ritard – which means immediately slow down to a slower speed and stay playing at that same slow speed. Also Accelerando which means gradually play faster.

Sometimes once the tempo has changed to a second different speed you might later get the indication Tempo Primo. This means go back to playing at the first tempo – speed – that you played at.