Playing a musical instrument can help rehabilitate stroke survivors

June 19, 2014 by Pete Austin, Goldsmiths, University of London
Micrograph showing cortical pseudolaminar necrosis, a finding seen in strokes on medical imaging and at autopsy. H&E-LFB stain. Credit: Nephron/Wikipedia

(Medical Xpress)—Researchers at Goldsmiths, University of London have found that playing a musical instrument could help the rehabilitation of stroke survivors.

The study saw improve their spatial awareness after four sessions and daily homework playing scales and melodies on chime bars with a music therapist.

A 'music intervention' program was implemented with people recovering from 'neglect', which is when damage to one side of the brain (usually the right) is sustained following a stroke causing problems on the opposite side of the patient's body.

This can lead to patients having difficulty with everyday tasks such as eating food on one side of their plate, as well as causing them to bump into things as they move around and not notice people on one side.

The patients took part in four sessions, led by music therapist and researcher Rebeka Bodak, and as they improved the researchers increased the distance between the chime bars to encourage them to draw their attention further to the left.

Dr Lauren Stewart, from the Music, Mind and Brain team based in Goldsmiths' Department of Psychology, said: "Despite a good deal of research into rehabilitation approaches, treatment options are limited. Our research shows that playing a could be an effective intervention for neglect patients. It would be great to invite more patients to participate in future studies, as well as see if the music intervention has the capacity to translate to improvements in ."

The research

  • The team tested two patients on a series of neglect tests three times over six weeks before an intervention period to establish a preliminary baseline.
  • The patients participated in four music intervention sessions one week apart, plus structured homework, which they completed twice a day.
  • As the patients improved, the team increased the distance between the chime bars to encourage the patients to play further into their left side of space.
  • The team measured the patients' ability to attend to their left side both before and after each session with the chime bars.
  • Significant improvements in performance were captured on two 'cancellation' tasks (clinical tests of neglect), demonstrating short-term treatment effects.
  • The team also tested the one week after the end of the intervention period, and again saw significant improvement in performance on the same two tasks, demonstrating longer-lasting effects.

The team is now planning to expand the study into a formal clinical trial, with a larger sample, to determine the full impact of the intervention.

Explore further: Research lays foundations for brain damage study

More information: "Reducing chronic visuo-spatial neglect following right hemisphere stroke through instrument playing." Rebeka Bodak, et al. Front. Hum. Neurosci., 11 June 2014 | DOI: 10.3389/fnhum.2014.00413

Related Stories

Research lays foundations for brain damage study

June 6, 2014
Researchers at The University of Queensland have made a key step that could eventually offer hope for stroke survivors and other people with brain damage.

Severity of spatial neglect after stroke predicts long-term mobility recovery in community

January 27, 2014
Stroke rehabilitation researchers at Kessler Foundation report an association between acute, severe spatial neglect post stroke and long-term recovery of mobility. This new study indicates that severity of spatial neglect ...

New therapy helps to improve audio and visual perception in stroke patients

March 4, 2014
A stroke can cause permanent damage to important parts of the brain, with the result that many stroke survivors require lifelong care and support. 'It is not uncommon for stroke patients to suffer from an awareness deficit ...

Stroke researchers report improvement in spatial neglect with prism adaptation therapy

December 27, 2013
Stroke rehabilitation researchers report improvement in spatial neglect with prism adaptation therapy. This new study supports behavioral classification of patients with spatial neglect as a valuable tool for assigning targeted, ...

Researchers find spatial awareness shifts right as people fall asleep

June 3, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—A team of researchers working at Cambridge University in the U.K. has found that spatial awareness shifts to the right when people are falling asleep. In their paper published in the journal Scientific ...

Recommended for you

New neurons in the adult brain are involved in sensory learning

February 23, 2018
Although we have known for several years that the adult brain can produce new neurons, many questions about the properties conferred by these adult-born neurons were left unanswered. What advantages could they offer that ...

Study in mice suggests personalized stem cell treatment may offer relief for multiple sclerosis

February 22, 2018
Scientists have shown in mice that skin cells re-programmed into brain stem cells, transplanted into the central nervous system, help reduce inflammation and may be able to help repair damage caused by multiple sclerosis ...

Nolan film 'Memento' reveals how the brain remembers and interprets events from clues

February 22, 2018
Key repeating moments in the film give viewers the information they need to understand the storyline. The scenes cause identical reactions in the viewer's brain. The results deepen our understanding of how the brain functions, ...

Biomarker, clues to possible therapy found in novel childhood neurogenetic disease

February 22, 2018
Researchers studying a rare genetic disorder that causes severe, progressive neurological problems in childhood have discovered insights into biological mechanisms that drive the disease, along with early clues that an amino ...

A look at the space between mouse brain cells

February 22, 2018
Between the brain's neurons and glial cells is a critical but understudied structure that's been called neuroscience's final frontier: the extracellular space. With a new imaging paradigm, scientists can now see into and ...

Schizophrenia a side effect of human development

February 21, 2018
Schizophrenia may have evolved as an "unwanted side effect" of the development of the complex human brain, a new study has found.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.