Music Therapy May Help Those Recovering From Stroke (Photo Credit: Pixabay.com)
Music therapy sessions may have a positive effect on the rehabilitation of acute stroke patients, and also improve their mood, according to a study which may lead to new clinical recommendations for those recovering from the condition. The study, published in the journal Topics in Stroke Rehabilitation, is the first large-scale research into the feasibility of delivering music therapy to stroke patients.
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. According to the scientists, including Alex Street from Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) in the UK, 177 patients took part in 675 Neurologic Music Therapy (NMT) sessions over a two-year period.
They assessed the therapy's success among patients, their relatives, and health professionals, and said it helped stroke patients regulate their mood, and improve concentration. The study also noted that 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.
The researchers said the NMT sessions were run alongside existing stroke rehabilitation treatment, including physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and clinical psychology. They 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, the scientists said, there was a reduction in "sad", and an increase in "happy" responses immediately following a session. According to the scientists, speech and language therapists observed a positive impact on patient arousal and engagement.
They said NMT may help patients overcome low mood and fatigue -- both common following stroke -- and therefore be beneficial for their rehabilitation. "Our study found that Neurologic Music Therapy was received enthusiastically by patients, their relatives, and staff," Street said.
"The fact 675 sessions were carried out in two years is in itself an indication of the success of the treatment," he added. Using music and instruments allowed patients to achieve a high amount of repetition to help achieve their goals, the scientists said.
"They felt that the exercises appear less clinical, because the patients are playing music with the music therapist, and they are receiving immediate feedback from the exercises, through the sounds they create," Street added.
However, the scientists said that further research is necessary to establish potential effects of music therapy on recovery rate and length of hospital stay.