The cheap, easy way to treat stroke is MUSIC >……...click & see the pictures
The researchers compared patients who listened to music for a couple of hours a day, with those who listened only to audio books, or nothing at all.
The music group showed better recovery of memory and attention skills, and a more positive general frame of mind.
Writing in journal Brain, the Finnish team who studied 60 patients said music could be a useful addition to therapy.
Lead researcher Teppo Sarkamo, from the University of Helsinki, said music could be particularly valuable for patients not yet ready for other forms of rehabilitation.
It also had the advantage of being cheap and easy-to-conduct.
The study focused on 60 stroke patients who took part in the research as soon as possible after they had been admitted to hospital.
The aim was to offer music therapy before the changes in the brain that can take place in the aftermath of a stroke had a chance to kick in.
Most of the patients had problems with movement and with cognitive processes, such as attention and memory.
Patients in the music group were able to chose the type of music they listened to. All patients received standard stroke rehabilitation.
After three months, verbal memory improved by 60% in the music group, compared with18% in the audio book group, and 29% in the non-listeners.
Focused attention – the ability to control and perform mental operations and resolve conflicts – improved by 17% in the music group, but not at all in the other two groups.
In addition, patients in the music group were less likely to be depressed, or confused.
Mr Sarkamo said: “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 organise.”
However, he admitted that further work was needed to confirm the study, and that it should not be assumed that music therapy would work all patients.
He said: “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.”
Possible theories :-
The researchers said it was possible that music directly stimulated recovery in the damaged areas of the brain.
Alternatively, it might stimulate more general mechanisms related to the ability of the brain to repair and renew its neural networks after damage.
Or it might specifically act on the part of the nervous system that is implicated in feelings of pleasure, reward and memory.
Dr Isabel Lee, of The Stroke Association, welcomed the research.
However, she said: “Further research into the effect of music on stroke patients needs to be undertaken before any widespread use, as presently the mechanisms of any effect remain unclear.”
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