Colombian neurosurgeon creates app that uses music to treat Parkinson’s

Global Business

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The Parkinson’s Disease Foundation said that more than 10 million people worldwide are living with Parkinson’s. As the disease does not have a cure, bright minds around the world are looking for ways to help ease symptoms and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. One of those solutions has come up in Colombia.

CCTV America’s Michelle Begue is in Bogota with more.

Colombian neurosurgeon creates app that uses music to treat Parkinson\'s

Colombian neurosurgeon creates app that uses music to treat Parkinson\'s

The Parkinson’s Disease Foundation said that more than 10 million people worldwide are living with Parkinson’s. As the disease does not have a cure, bright minds around the world are looking for ways to help ease symptoms and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. One of those solutions has come up in Colombia. CCTV America’s Michelle Begue is in Bogota with more.

69 year-old Carlos Julio Mejia swatches the steady hand of sharp shooting contestants participating in the summer Olympics. For this Colombian, a steady pulse was also an important part of his work as a carpenter and painter but three years ago his life changed starting with an accident.

“While bowling I threw a ball and the next day I felt pain. I spent one year in physical therapy going to 500 different sessions and the pain didn’t go away,” Mejia said.

His doctor later diagnosed him with the chronic and progressive movement disorder known as Parkinson’s disease. The cause is unknown and there is presently no cure only treatment through medication and surgery that can lessen the symptoms.

Local health officials recommended that Carlos meet with Colombian neurosurgeon William Contreras. In 2013, Doctor Contreras developed an app that claims to ease the difficulty in walking produced by Parkinson’s.

Through music, the app helps the patient release dopamine, a chemical substance that sends messages to parts of the brain that controls movement and coordination. The death of these dopamine neurons is what produces the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

The creators of the app, called Listenmee, tested the technology on patients in Germany, Colombia and Brazil. Although, they claim further studies are needed in order to clarify and maximize its benefits, the initial results showed that auditory cues could help improve the patient’s walking speed, cadence and stride lengths by 20 to 45 percent.

Dr. Contreras said the app can’t reverse severe symptoms presented during the most advanced stages of Parkinson’s. But patients like Mejia who are at the initial stages of the disease have the most to benefit from the app as it can help slow the progression of rigidity


Dr. William Contreras talks about the Listenmee app

The Listenmee app was created by two neurosurgeons and an industrial designer. CCTV America’s Michelle Begue interviewed one of the creators, Dr. William Contreras.