Effects of singing on voice, respiratory control and quality of life in persons with Parkinson's disease

Disabil Rehabil. 2017 Mar;39(6):594-600. doi: 10.3109/09638288.2016.1152610. Epub 2016 Mar 17.


Purpose Interventions focused on singing may provide additional benefits to established voice and respiratory therapies, due to their greater emphasis on the respiratory muscle control system in those with Parkinson's disease (PD) progresses. The purpose of this study was to examine if singing can improve voice, respiratory pressure and quality of life (QOL) in persons with PD. Methods This pilot study measured the effects of a singing intervention in 27 participants with PD. Participants were assigned to a high (met twice weekly) or low (met once weekly) dosage group. Voice, respiratory and QOL measures were recorded before and after an 8-week singing intervention. Sessions were led by board-certified music therapists and included a series of vocal and articulation exercises and group singing. Results Both groups demonstrated significant improvements in maximum inspiratory and expiratory pressure, as well as phonation time. While other voice measures improved, they did not reach statistical significance. Voice QOL and whole health QOL also significantly improved. Conclusion These results suggest singing may be a beneficial and engaging treatment choice for improving and maintaining vocal function and respiratory pressure in persons with PD. Implications for Rehabilitation In a small sample, group singing proved beneficial for improving voice and respiratory impairment in persons with Parkinson's disease. Completing group singing one time per week for 8 weeks was as effective as completing group singing two times per week for 8 weeks in persons with Parkinson's disease. Group singing is an effective means of improving overall quality of life in persons with Parkinson's disease.

Keywords: Inspiratory capacity; Parkinson’s disease; music therapy; quality of life; singing; voice.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parkinson Disease / physiopathology*
  • Parkinson Disease / rehabilitation*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Quality of Life*
  • Respiratory Muscles / physiopathology*
  • Singing*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Voice Quality*