A pilot study which is the first year long hospital trial in United Kingdom to access whether music therapy can be beneficial in the recovery of patients following strokes has found that patients taking part in percussion sessions twice a week improved the function in their arms and hands. The preliminary findings highlight how this therapy can potentially transform the care for people who suffer speech loss or other damage when the blood flow to their brain is cut off.
The trial, which is now under way at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, is being led by Dr Alexander Street of the Music for Health Research Centre at Anglia Ruskin University. “We believe that music interventions are likely to be beneficial for improving arm function following a stroke, with the strong rhythmic stimulus embedded in music helping to enhance motor performance, said Dr Street.
“However, since music therapy is not part of standard care, it was important to test whether stroke patients would engage with playing musical instruments, in this case percussion instruments, requires a high level of repetition of specific movements. Participants were able to associate the movements with the precision and dexterity needed in normal day-to-day activities, such as dressing, washing and using cutlery, which possibly enhanced their focus.”
One of the advantages of percussion exercises in music therapy is that they do not require musical expertise, and the strong repetitive beat improves learning by boosting brain focus.
According to The Stroke Foundation in Australia, strokes are one of the biggest killers and a leading cause of disability in the country.