Rhythm helps us to move
“Every disease is a musical problem; every cure is a musical solution” (Novalis).
We move better when we move to rhythm whether we're healthy or ill with a neurological disease, a phenomenon duly noted and researched over the past 40 years!
This article from the Cambridge Centre for Brain Repair tells us what we now know about why and how this is so. Firstly, some of our more precise movements, like walking, talking, typing and writing rely on an internal rhythm being generated so that they can be done correctly and it so happens that listening to a strong external rhythmic beat and moving to it can accentuate this internal rhythm and even replace a faulty connection in the brain between rhythm and movement, something that happens for instance in Parkinson's Disease. The artificial aid from the external rhythm is called entrainment. The sound of the beat prepares the motor neurones for activity so that people whose movements were frozen, suddenly find that they can move again. Anatomical experiments have revealed the neural link between nerves in the ear and the sensorimotor pathways in the brain. Sounds can change the excitability of the motor neurones so that they are more sensitive to the internal command to move.
In humans, a functional link has also been found between the processing of musical rhythm in the brain and the use of rhythm for movement as both involve the same brain areas such as the premotor cortex, the supplementary motor area (SMA), the basal area and the cerebellum. This sensory-motor coupling has been shown in healthy volunteers as well as patients with Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, stroke and traumatic brain injury. It is quite clear from the research that optimal stimulation of these areas can be made by moving with regular movements to a strong rhythmic music to maintain or improve our capacity to initiate and carry out precise movements.
N.B. It is important to use a rhythm that is not too fast or too slow and to make the movements easy to follow to get best effects.