Can music help a stroke survivor?
"In forty years of medical practice, I have found only two types of non-pharmaceutical 'therapy' to be vitally important for patients with chronic neurological diseases: music and gardens."
-- Oliver Sacks
Can music help a stroke survivor? The answer is a resounding YES. Music therapy can help in these important areas:
- in speech, especially those who have aphasia
- in motor function areas
- in cognitive function
- in emotional areas
For many people with aphasia, being to sing when they could not speak was the most joyous realization in their recovery. This is because speech is processed primarily in the left side of the brain, but music is processed in multiple parts of the brain. Some of these overlap with speech centers and some do not.
It seems that the motor system is very responsive to the auditory system (try dancing without music). That means the right kind of music can help you to walk:
In addition to walking, music therapy can also promote hand rehabilitation. This is the theory behind the MusicGlove.
Music is highly engaging and activates multiple parts of the brain simultaneously. This makes it perfect for helping people with left-side neglect and difficulty with attention. Music can be used to capture someone’s attention (focused attention), hold it for a period of time (sustained attention), and get the survivor to switch back and forth between two things (alternating attention).
by increasing relaxation, overall motivation, and helping to distract from the pain. Positive mood has been shown to play a significant role in stroke recovery.
Finding a music therapist:
- MedRhythms -- a music-rehab company based in Boston and Portland, Maine -- offers its services throughout New England.
- Contact the American Music Therapy Association or email them at findMT@musictherapy.org.
FYI: Language as music, music as language