Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Rockin' Recovery

I'm here in Finland, above the Arctic Circle, the home of my wife, Aila. We're visiting for 3 weeks.

This is a great country for clearing one's head. The things that matter to "us" seem to trouble them less. Their perspective has changed my perspective!

There is a particular study the Fins have done on stroke recovery that has caught my eye several times over the past few years. Part of it is that any study that says "stroke" and "Finland" will get my attention. Part of it is that music is so personally important.
The following quote comes from this article Therapy Times

"A daily dose of one’s favorite pop melodies, classical music or jazz can speed recovery from debilitating strokes, according to a study published recently. When stroke patients in Finland listened to music for a couple of hours each day, verbal memory and attention span improved significantly compared to patients who received no musical stimulation, or who listened only to stories read out loud, the study reports.

Those exposed to music also experienced less depression than the other two control groups.

Three months after a stroke, verbal memory was boosted by 60 percent in music listeners, by 18 percent in audio book listeners, and by 29 percent in non-listeners, according to the lead author Teppo Sarkamo, PhD, a neuroscientist at Helsinki University in Finland.

The differences held true after six months as well, says the study, which is published in a recent issue of the journal, Brain. Sarkamo’s findings bolster a growing body of research pointing to the benefits of music and music therapy for conditions including autism, schizophrenia, and dementia. But this is the first time music alone has been shown to have a positive effect on victims of brain injury, such as stroke, he says.

“Everyday music listening during early stroke recovery offers a valuable addition to the patients’ care, especially if other active forms of rehabilitation are not yet feasible,” Sarkamo says."

Also, this systematic review seems to further indicate music can help in a number of ways.



Linda said...

What do you think about music listening as a recovery aid after the initial period? I am 2 years post stroke. I really found just about any sounds upsetting and stressful for the first while but find that I am tolerating it much better now, however I don't go looking for music like I did pre-stroke.

I love reading your blog. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and insights.


Peter G Levine said...


Thanks for the kind words; I hope the blog is helpful.

That you are hypersensitive to sound is interesting. Especially given you went "looking for" music prior (a music fan).

I think the Finnish study was important because it talked specifically about recovery after listening to music. The info from the systematic review was more usage of rhythm in recovery, not music per se. So, to you question: like much of what we know about recovery, the answer remains unclear. I'd look for a music therapist and see if there's "any there there."

Best, -pete

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