Funded by the Trusthouse Caritable Foundation, Allegretto used live music to work with Parkinson’s patients during physiotherapy at Catherine Bray’s clinic at Upton Hospital in Slough. Live music was essential rather than recorded music, so that the tempo could be changed to match the gait of the patient. The programme was a huge success, and was a firm favourite with patients, their partners, the physiotherapy team and family supporters. The response was very successful with noticeable improvements in walking ability and strength of stride for the patients taking part. It was also produced a very real sense of bonding in the group.
Music can change the world because it can change people.
Towards the end of 2007 we had good news when we heard that the Upton Day Hospital team consisting of Catherine Bray, Sarah Dean and Josie Donohoe won the Extra Mile Team Award at a ceremony hosted by Berkshire East PCT. The award to the team was a popular one, awarded on the grounds of creativity. Indeed the team faced stiff opposition from many more costly projects. We believe that the music generates a real feel-good sensation that permeates the ward and corridors beyond, so that at a local level at least, the project had a great deal of goodwill.
The rhythm has a lot to do with it. When I watch the others it’s clear that it makes a vast difference to the way they walk. I prefer it in a group; it makes you more determined, you feel less inclined to give in to your body… I love this [Irish] music. I call it Pub Music and it makes you want to get up and go. It gets into your soul and bones. The effect is very real, and it’s something we should be doing more of. Marti Hewitt, former Swiss National High Jump and Running National Champion
The music definitely improves my steps. The whole session is uplifting.
Frank Doherty – lead musician for Allegretto and previously for the Music into Upton programme – with Catherine Bray (to his left) and the team.