'Music Therapy Helps Patients Recover Brain Function Following Stroke'
by David Gutierrez
siting study by Särkämö, T., Tervaniemi, M., Laitinen, S., Forsblom, A., Soinila, S., Mikkonen, M., Autti, T., Silvennoinen, H.M., Erkkilä, J., Laine, M., Peretz, I., & Hietanen, M. Music listening enhances cognitive recovery and mood after middle cerebral artery stroke. Brain, 2008, 131, 866-876.
Retrieved 11 October 2008
Researchers from the Cognitive Brain Research Unit at the University of Helsinki, Finland studied 54 people under the age of 76 who had suffered a stroke of the middle cerebral artery in either side of the brain. Participants in the study were randomly assigned to one of three groups:
a) listen to music of their choice for at least one hour per day
b) listen to self-selected audio book for at least one hour per day
c) no auditory stimulation.
Verbal memory scores of those in group a) improved 60 percent after three months compared with only 18 percent in group b) and 29 percent in group c). Other significant findings: Those in group a) improved their ability to focus by a greater margin than those in the other two groups, and showed less depression and confusion.
After six months, the differences in improvement between the three groups was similar.
Although this article does not draw a direct parallel between physical recuperation and emotional well-being, (nor, I imagine does the original study) there is a lot of anecdotal evidence (and possibly scientific evidence as well) to connect the emotional health of a patient with his or her physical recovery. Any patient who experiences less confusion, memory loss and depression during recuperation is probably a better candidate for return to health than those who suffer from confusion, memory loss and depression. The results of this study are exciting in that they present the possibility that music may have an effect on the brain such that it helps to restore memory and ability to focus, which in turn probably increases positive emotions. Patients with the emotional will to recover will do so more quickly, not only emotionally but physically. One thing's for certain: should I or someone I know suffer a stroke, you can rest assured there will be music playing throughout their recovery.
by Shannon Coates