A study conducted by Finnish researchers on 54 patients who suffered stroke on the right or left hemisphere middle cerebral artery, noted that those patients, who listened to music for few hours a day showed better results in verbal memory and focused attention, and generally displayed a positive mood, than others who listened to only audio books or nothing at all.
The music therapy was done for two months, as soon as the patients are admitted to the hospital. The music selections were chosen by patients themselves, and they were assessed for upto six months after the stroke.
The researchers found that three months after the stroke, verbal memory improved by 60 percent from the first-week post-stroke among music-listening patients, by 18 percent among audio book listeners and by 29 percent in non-listeners. Also focused attention and ability to control and perform mental operations improved by 17 percent among music listeners, but no improvement was found among non-listeners or audio book listeners. It was also found that the music listeners’ group was less depressed when compared to non-listeners.
This study was published in the February issue of ˜Brain, which shows the link between stroke recovery and listening to music.
The First Author of the University of Helsinki, Teppo Sarkamo said Based on our findings, we suggest listening to music for a couple of hours everyday during early stroke recovery phase. This when done, along with the other care and rehabilitation that the patient receives, could prove to be an easy-to-conduct and inexpensive means of facilitating cognitive and emotional recovery.
According to researchers, music helps recovery of stroke patients due to three neural mechanisms which are: through enhanced alertness and mood mediated by a part of nervous system which plays a role in inducing pleasure, arousal, motivation, memory and reward; through direct stimulation of music for recovery of damaged areas in the brain; through the ability of brain to renew or repair its neural networks after damage.