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The benefits of music and physical activity-based therapies for early-stage alzheimer's disease: a literature review

Callahan, Hannah (2018) The benefits of music and physical activity-based therapies for early-stage alzheimer's disease: a literature review. Master Essay, University of Pittsburgh.

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Background/Objective: Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is a rapidly progressing neurodegenerative disease that affects 50 million people worldwide. It is estimated that by 2050, there will be 1 million new cases of AD annually. With no cure and limited treatment options, the public health burden of AD will increase and lead to a need for better treatment options. Currently, the NIH recommends non-drug interventions to address the psychiatric symptoms that accompany AD progression such as anxiety, depression, and irritability. This work will examine the benefits of several music-based, physical activity and dance-based, and combination therapies for people with AD.
Methods: A review of literature was conducted. Keywords “alzheimers + dance”, “alzheimers + music”, “alzheimers + physical activity”, and “alzheimers + music + physical activity” were used to search PittCat+. Results were sorted by relevance and a subset of papers from each search were reviewed for inclusion. Papers were excluded if they did not assess early stage AD, only assessed mild cognitive impairment or dementia broadly, were observational, assessed an outcome other than a change in cognitive or behavioral symptoms, or did not assess a music, physical activity, or combination intervention were excluded. Overall, 10 papers were chosen for review.
Results: Three music-based interventions demonstrated increased autobiographical memory recall in environments where recognition items were presented either through song or with background music playing. Participants in these studies exhibited increased mini-mental state examination scores and improved Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale and agitation scores post intervention. Two physical activity-based interventions reported increased maintenance of cognitive functions and agility following exercise interventions. Two combination dance and music therapies showed increased positive mood and energy and decreased difficult behaviors post intervention. Overall, studies supported a beneficial association between non-drug behavioral therapies and an improvement in cognitive and psychiatric symptoms.
Conclusion: Evidence shows that music and movement interventions improve cognitive, behavioral, and other symptoms experienced by people in the early stages of AD. However, research in this area is sparse. Further research is required to confirm a true relationship between music and activity therapies and alleviation of the symptoms of early-stage Alzheimer’s Disease.
Public Health Significance: As the number of people with Alzheimer’s Disease rises globally, the necessity for less invasive treatments that improve quality of life and promote an overall feeling of wellness while alleviating symptoms grows. Exploring cost effective options with minimal or no side effects such as music, physical activity, and dance therapies could have a large impact on how early Alzheimer’s disease is treated.


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Item Type: Other Thesis, Dissertation, or Long Paper (Master Essay)
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Callahan, Hannahhrc20@pitt.eduhrc20
ContributionContributors NameEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairHaggerty, CatherinehaggertyC@edc.pitt.eduUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Committee MemberElias, Thistleelias@pitt.eduUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Committee MemberRosso, Andreaalr143@pitt.eduUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Date: 12 December 2018
Date Type: Submission
Number of Pages: 33
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Public Health > Epidemiology
Degree: MPH - Master of Public Health
Thesis Type: Master Essay
Refereed: Yes
Date Deposited: 28 Sep 2019 19:00
Last Modified: 01 Jan 2022 06:15


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