I've Got Rhythm
Margaret Lu
Sir Winston Churchill Secondary
Floor Location : M 101 N

The neurological rhythms of human walking are generated in areas of the brain such as the basal ganglia and the supplementary motor area (SMA), which are rich in dopamine receptors. These areas malfunction in Parkinson's Disease (PD) patients, impairing their ability to walk. In this pilot study, we explored the effectiveness of therapies involving rhythm-based musical and tactile stimuli in treating this impairment in patients with PD. In this pilot study, we tested 6 different subjects (one of whom did the test twice), using Timed Up and Go tests. The subjects were split into two test groups using different test distances: 3 and 5 meters, respectively. Each subject was tested four times: first with no treatment (to establish a baseline), then with stimulus from a vibrating metronome attached to the leg, then with music and metronomes, and finally with (for the second time) no treatment. Surprisingly, we found that the vibrating metronome treatment correlated with significantly better test performance than the music-plus-metronome treatment. In addition, we found that the second round of non-treatment also correlated with significantly improved performance, indicating a possible "training effect." Despite several possible sources of error, we concluded that results of this pilot study were highly consistent with the hypothesis that tactile rhythmic stimuli have therapeutic effects in PD patients.