Music therapy helps stroke patients

Washington: It`s long been known that
listening to music can ease stress, now a new research claims
that it has a powerful effect on brain and may help improve
movement in stroke patients.

The research, which is a review of several studies on
the benefits of music therapy, found that music appears to
have beneficial effects on stroke patients and can help them
improve their movement.

More than 20 million people suffer strokes each year.
Many patients acquire brain injuries that affect their
movement and language abilities, which results in significant
loss of quality of life.

Music therapists are trained in techniques that
stimulate brain functions and aim to improve outcomes for

One common technique is rhythmic auditory stimulation
(RAS), which relies on the connections between rhythm and
movement. Music of a particular tempo is used to stimulate
movement in the patient.

The systematic review carried out by experts at the
Cochrane Collaboration included seven small studies on music
therapy, involving altogether 184 people.

Four studies focused specifically on stroke patients,
with three of these using RAS as the treatment technique.

It was found that RAS therapy improved walking speed by
an average of 14 metres per minute compared to standard
movement therapy, and helped patients take longer steps.

In one trial, RAS also improved arm movements, as
measured by elbow extension angle.

"This review shows encouraging results for the effects
of music therapy in stroke patients," said lead researcher
Joke Bradt of the Arts and Quality of Life Research Center at
Temple University in Philadelphia, US.

"As most of the studies we looked at used rhythm-based
methods, we suggest that rhythm may be a primary factor in
music therapy approaches to treating stroke."

Other music therapy techniques, including listening to
live and recorded music, were employed to try to improve
speech, behaviour and pain in patients with brain injuries,
and although outcomes in some cases were positive, evidence
was limited.

"Several trials that we identified had less than 20
participants," said Bradt.

"It is expected that larger samples sizes will be used
in future studies to enable sound recommendations for clinical

A systematic review is a summary of research that uses
explicit methods to analyse individual studies to identify the
valid and applicable evidence.

Many health care journals publish systematic reviews,
but the best-known source is the Cochrane Collaboration which
has over 15,000 specialists to analyse individual studies.


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