Interdisciplinary therapies for the management of people with multiple sclerosis (MS) are underappreciated. There is an urgent need to introduce music therapy (MT), either alone or in combination with physical therapy (PT), into clinical practice to achieve synergy with disease-modifying therapies. A holistic approach to rehabilitation for people with MS may mitigate symptoms and reduce polypharmacy, potentially lowering health care costs.
As MS progresses, patients experience a range of worsening symptoms, and many develop psychosocial comorbidities. As disease-modifying therapies delay disability progression, nonpharmacologic treatments become increasingly important. The main aim of PT is to improve or maintain patients’ functional mobility, strength, and flexibility. Because it targets multiple functions, MT can help improve functional and psychosocial domains and may be a valuable intervention to help patients achieve the physical, cognitive, and emotional goals of PT. Exploratory studies showed that MT, alone or in combination with PT, can lead to functional improvements in mobility, balance, gait, and fatigue. Similar to PT, MT also has benefits in improving fine motor skills, cognition, learning, and memory and in providing emotional support.
Both MT and PT have the potential to improve overall well-being and health-related quality of life in physically active patients with MS, and MT can provide added emotional support for those who are less able to engage in physical activity. However, MT is not typically a part of standard of care, and PT visits are limited. Nevertheless, interdisciplinary therapies should be incorporated into clinical practice.