Steady beat connects brain and body

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Todd Leonard was just 42, back in 2011, when a Parkinson's Disease diagnosis changed every aspect of his life.

"Quit my career," Todd says, "And day to day functions are difficult. I get stiffness in my muscles. And sometimes it's just hard to prepare a meal, or wash the dishes or house clean."

Now Todd is fighting back at the neurological disease, with the help of his therapist at HealthDource, and the steady, ticking beat of an interactive metronome.

"Katie came to my support group, and she demonstrated the metronome," Todd says, "And I talked to my doctor about it, and he thought it would be a good idea for me to come and try it out."

Speech and languate pathologist, Katie McDonald, says just as a metronome can help a musician keep a steady beat, it can help people with Parkinson's and other neurologic disorders steady the communication between their brains and bodies.

"Carrying the metronome, which is that repetitive beat, that we hear, it helps syncronize motor planning and processing," McDonald says, "So it allows the brain to come to a faster processing speed, to move our body and the motions that control our body."

McDonald says the proof is in what you are witnessing here. Todd- who had limited control over his body movements, and had difficulty relating his thoughts verbally, is a man transformed.

"That's why I come to work every day," McDonald says, "Because I know that if I can make a difference- even if it's only one person benefits from this program- than I feel like I've done my job, because we can't put a value to someone's self worth."

There are not many centers using the metronome, but health source will expand its use. reserach shows it's effective with various speech, occupational, and physical therapies.

"As part of our toolkit, we can work together to make sure that whatever function helps the patient out in the community they can do all three here, to support all areas of their body and motor programming," McDonald says.

After weeks of therapy with the metronome, no matter how difficult and frustrating parkinson's makes his life, todd won't let it stop him from living it, "You just push through , and do it and take naps throughout the day."

For more information about HealthSource's metronome program, visit their website, here.

You will also find more detailed information about the interactive metronome here.

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