As I often say, music is a powerful force for healing.
Today, I want to share how it’s being used to aid stroke victims in their recovery.
A recent study from the University of Helsinki in Finland explored how music helps heal the brain after a stroke, particularly the regions involving memory. And I have to say, the results are truly remarkable.
Music listening significantly benefits stroke victims
The team of researchers randomly assigned 60 study participants—all of whom were recent stroke victims—to one of three intervention groups:
In addition, all the participants received standard stroke rehabilitation.
The intervention period lasted two months. Researchers then followed up with the participants six months after their stroke.
At the onset of the study, a majority of the stroke victims experienced difficulties with movement and cognitive processes, like attention and memory.
But after treatment, researchers found significant improvements in the health of the patients:
These improvements mostly remained consistent six months post-stroke.
How music heals your brain
The Finnish researchers attribute this significant cognitive recovery directly to the effect of music listening. This helped the stroke patients in three ways:
Interestingly, one of the study authors also noted that 63 percent of the music played contained lyrics, suggesting that a combination of lyrics and instrumentation helped play a crucial role in the music listening group’s recovery.
One of the main study authors, Teppo Särkämö, concluded:
"Other research has shown that during the first weeks and months after stroke, the patients typically spend about three-quarters of their time each day in non-therapeutic activities, mostly in their rooms, inactive and without interaction, even although this time-window is ideal for rehabilitative training from the point of view of brain plasticity.
“Our research shows for the first time that listening to music during this crucial period can enhance cognitive recovery and prevent negative mood, and it has the advantage that it is cheap and easy to organize."
He also adds, “Rather than an alternative, music listening should be considered as an addition to other active forms of therapy, such as speech therapy or neuropsychological rehabilitation."
I couldn’t agree more.
Protection from the ravages of stroke
Today’s take away is this: If someone you love suffers a stroke, introduce music into the their treatment plan as soon as possible. It could make all the difference in how quickly their brain heals and recovers.
In the meantime, be proactive about your brain health.
Here are some ideas to strengthen and protect your brain.
Above all else, remember to make taking impeccable care of yourself non-negotiable.
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Särkämö, Teppo. (2018). Music in the Recovering Brain After Stroke. Helsinki University. Retrieved from: helsinki.fi/en/researchgroups/
University of Helsinki. (2008). Listening to music improves stroke patients’ recovery, study shows. ScienceDaily.com. Retrieved from: sciencedaily.com/releases/
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