Combining Drug and Music Therapy in Patients With Moderate Alzheimer's Disease: A Randomized Study

A. R. Giovagnoli
V. Manfredi
L. Schifano
C. Paterlini
A. Parente
F. Tagliavini


Alzheimer's disease (AD) can impair language, but active music therapy (AMT) and memantine (M) can improve communication. This study aimed to clarify whether adding AMT to M may improve language in comparison with drugs alone in patients with moderate AD on stable therapy with acetylcholinesterase inhibitors (AchEI). Forty-five AD patients treated with stable dose of AchEI were randomized to receive AMT plus M 20 mg/day or M 20 mg/day for 24 weeks. The Severe Impairment Battery-Language (SIB-l), SIB, Mini Mental State Examination, Neuropsychiatric Inventory (NPI), Lubben Social Network Scale, Activities of Daily Living, and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living scores at baseline and 12 and 24 weeks assessed language (primary variable) and overall cognitive, psycho-behavior, social, and functional aspects (secondary variables). The SIB-l showed a stabilization of the baseline condition in both groups, in the absence of between-group differences. The NPI depression and appetite scores significantly improved in the M-AMT group. Moreover, significantly less patients in the M-AMT group than those in the M group showed worsening of the NPI total score. Daily activities, social relationships, and overall cognitive performance did not deteriorate. In patients with moderate AD, AMT added to pharmacotherapy has no further benefits for language in comparison with pharmacotherapy alone. However, this integrated treatment can improve the psycho-behavioral profile.