Music therapy helps stroke patients

September 27, 2009


By now, you all know my feelings on the healing power of music and a new study from Italy gives you another tool to use for anyone who has had a stroke.

The researchers examined the effects that different types of opera and classical music have on cardiovascular measures and they saws distinct physical changes. A fast tempo prompted increased blood pressure and faster breathing and heart rates. Slower tempo lowered blood pressure and brought down heart and breathing rates.

Despite what you might assume, it seems that quiet, soothing music is actually not the best music for the heart. You want something that alternates tempo between slower and faster, as well as lower and higher volumes. They recommend Nessun Dorma as being ideas as it is beneficial for both heart rate and general circulation.

Specifically for stroke patients, Diana Greenman (who heads up a UK charity that brings live music to hospitals and hospices) has said that she hears time and again of stroke patients who suddenly are able to move in time to the music after previously being paralyzed. Sounds pretty amazing, and there is proof to back it up in a study from the University of Helsinki.

Researchers there recruited 60 stroke patients who were divided into three groups; some listened to whatever music they liked, some to audio books, and some had no specific listening plan. All the patients were also receiving standard treatment for stroke rehabilitation. After three months, testing showed that focused attention and mental operation abilities improved by 17 per cent in the music group, but didn’t improve at all in the other two groups. Verbal memory scores were even more impressive: Music group: 60 per cent improvement. Audio books group: 18 per cent. Non-listening group: 29 per cent. Subjects in the music group also tended to be less confused and less depressed than subjects in the other two groups.

One stroke expert has said that more research is needed before widespread use of music as therapy can be recommended for stroke victims. As there are no side effects and plenty of benefits you have to wonder how much more research is needed. If you are in contact with a stroke patient, music therapy is best started as soon as possible, so go out and get a copy of Nessum Dorma and it will lift everybody’s spirit.


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