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Playing musical instrument 'might aid stroke recovery'

Stroke victims could make a quicker journey on the road to recovery if they take up a musical instrument, UK researchers have claimed.

Experts at Goldsmiths, part of the University of London, have said that playing an instrument could help the rehabilitation of stroke survivors.

“Our research shows that playing a musical instrument could be an effective intervention for neglect patients”

Lauren Stewart

A very small study examined the spatial awareness of patients before and after four sessions with a music therapist and structured homework, which was completed twice a day.

The authors said that people recovering from so-called “neglect” − when damage to one side of the brain is suffered following a stroke causing spatial awareness problems on the opposite side of the patient’s body − can benefit from such schemes.

They examined two patients who were taught how to play chime bars. As the pair improved, the research team increased the distance between the chime bars to encourage the patients to play further into their left side of space.

Following the sessions, both participants showed “significant improvement” in clinical tests for “neglect”, the study authors said in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.

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.

Goldsmiths

Lauren Stewart

“Our research shows that playing a musical instrument could be an effective intervention for neglect patients,” she said.

“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 everyday tasks,” she added.

The team of researchers are now planning to expand the small study into a formal clinical trial to determine the full impact of the intervention.

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