Music therapy for stroke patients may seem like a passive activity, but can make a surprising impact on recovery.
From improving speech to movement, music therapy for stroke patients can be a powerful addition to your regimen.
You’re about to learn how powerful music therapy can be for physical and psychological healing after stroke.
What is Music Therapy for Stroke Patients?
Neurologic music therapy uses auditory stimulation to retrain the brain.
While passively listening to music can stimulate the brain, neurologic music therapy for stroke patients steps it up a notch and requires active participation to optimize recovery potential.
It’s guided by a certified music therapist, and sessions are personalized to accommodate each patient’s specific skillset.
To help you better understand what music therapy is all about, check out the video below!
Benefits of Music Therapy for Stroke Patients
Music therapy can improve all sorts of different functions affected by stroke.
Here are 6 major benefits of music therapy for stroke patients and the science behind it:
1. Promotes Neuroplasticity
Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to rewire itself so that functions impaired by a stroke can be recovered.
To maximize neuroplasticity, you must perform lots of repetitions.
The more you repeat, the more your brain understands that there is a demand for that function and rewires itself.
Music therapy is fun and interactive, which makes it easier to perform the repetitions you need to promote neuroplasticity.
2. Improves Movement
We may not notice it, but rhythm is all around us. A ticking clock, our heartbeat, the way we speak… these are all examples of rhythm.
Rhythmic entrainment is a technique used in music therapy that involves synchronizing your movements to a given rhythm.
Research proves that walking along to a steady beat can improve stride length and timing between steps.
Auditory stimulation prepares the motor cortex to anticipate movement, which improves muscle activation patterns.
It also influences physiological changes in heart rate, respiration, blood pressure, body temperature, and muscle tension.
This is why people listen to lively music when they run, and mellow music to relax.
3. Recovers Speech
Left-side stroke can result in aphasia, a condition which impairs the ability to speak and/or understand speech, as well as possibly affecting the ability to read and write.
Music intonation therapy involves teaching individuals how to speak again by singing, which is a right-side function.
The more you practice singing what you want to say, the more you promote neuroplasticity, and gradually, speech functions will be reassigned to the right side of the brain.
Need to see it to believe it? Watch how music therapy helps a stroke patient:
4. Boosts Cognitive Function
Music therapy for stroke patients helps boost cognitive functioning because it stimulates so many different areas of the brain at once.
Music therapy practices developing a wide variety of cognitive skills including:
- Auditory processing
- Reaction speed
- Emotion regulation
- Multisensory integration
- Social cognition
5. Uplifts Mood to Help Reduce Post-Stroke Depression
Did you know that 1 in every 3 stroke survivors deals with post-stroke depression?
Post-stroke depression can hinder motivation and delay stroke recovery.
Fortunately, music therapy is proven to help improve mood and reduce feelings of depression after stroke.
Low dopamine levels are linked to depressive disorders.
When you listen to music, you unconsciously anticipate climaxes in the music, and when they play, the brain releases more dopamine, which boosts motivation and reward perception.
6. Enhances Quality of Life
As you’ve learned in the previous sections, music therapy can enrich both psychological and physical wellbeing after stroke.
Quality of life is holistic, and these benefits are all interconnected.
Music can help improve cognitive function and uplift your mood, which boosts motivation and gets you to perform the repetitions you need to recover movement.
At-Home Music Therapy for Stroke Patients
If you’re serious about maximizing function after stroke, you have to practice beyond your music therapy sessions.
Flint Rehab’s MusicGlove combines music therapy, hand rehab, and gaming to boost fine motor skills from home.
Now that you know about the healing powers of music therapy, it should be no surprise that MusicGlove is clinically proven to improve hand function within 2 weeks.
Understanding Music Therapy for Stroke Patients
There are lots of benefits to using music therapy for stroke recovery, but ultimately, it’s all about repetitively stimulating the brain to promote neuroplasticity.
Music simply makes it a lot more fun and motivating to get those repetitions in.
If you’re looking for a new way to boost your cognitive and motor functions after stroke, consider giving music therapy a try!
Featured image: ©iStock.com/miriam-doerr