Music Therapy Helps Stroke Patients: Study

Music therapy sessions may have a positive effect on the rehabilitation of acute stroke patients, and also improve their mood, according to a study published in the journal Topics in Stroke Rehabilitation.

It is the first large-scale research into the feasibility of delivering music therapy to stroke patients. Researchers assessed the therapy’s success among patients, their relatives, and health professionals.

About the Study

It noted that the therapy involved playing physical instruments like keyboard, drums and hand-held percussion, as well as using iPads featuring touchscreen instruments to help patients with hand rehabilitation by improving finger dexterity.

177 patients took part in 675 Neurologic Music Therapy (NMT) sessions over a two-year period in the UK. NMT sessions were run alongside existing stroke rehabilitation treatment, including physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and clinical psychology.

Researchers asked the 139 patients, their relatives, and hospital staff to complete questionnaires which yielded an average response that NMT was “helpful” or “very helpful”. Of the 52 patients who completed mood scale questionnaires, there was a reduction in “sad”, and an increase in “happy” responses immediately following a session.

Beneficial Effects of Therapy
  • Therapy helped stroke patients regulate their mood, and improve concentration.
  • Music therapy promoted changes in the brains of the patients to improve function, known as neural reorganisation, and also provided physical benefits such as better arm function and gait.
  • Speech and language therapists observed a positive impact on patient arousal and engagement.
  • Neurologic Music Therapy was received enthusiastically by patients, their relatives, and staff.
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