Adding your favorite songs to your rehab program might do more than just lift your spirits

August 31, 2018

A good tune can help lift our spirits and enrich our lives. Besides making us happy, music can also help us improve our health. It turns out that we can use music to help us recover after a stroke. This simple, enjoyable remedy can be used with exercise programs during rehab! A recent study by Greek researchers found that music can help us with better recovery rates and improve mood when used in conjunction with exercise training programs for stroke.

Greek researchers studied the benefit of music-enriched stroke rehab

The scientists wondered if music could enrich exercise rehab programs for stroke patients. To find out, they recruited 65 patients recovering from a recent stroke to test their idea. They had some patients engage in a regular exercise rehab, while others took part in a special, music-enriched training program. The programs were 6 months long and consisted of four, 45-minute sessions per week. To assess for improvement, researchers recorded each participant’s ability to conduct everyday tasks, known as the activities of daily living (i.e., brushing teeth, eating, showering). They also used a CT scan to monitor changes in brain structure.

What a music-enriched training session looked like

In a typical music-enriched training session, patients sat in a circle facing an instructor. This instructor would lead them through the exercises as the group listened to music. Songs were specifically chosen for the patients’ age group and were tunes that purposely reminded participants of their youthful days. The researchers wanted everyone to stay interested and enjoy their experience! There was first a 5-minute warm-up consisting of breathing activities and stretching, followed by moderate intensity upper and lower body strengthening. Core exercises focused on improving standing or sitting posture, as well as balance and coordination, were also incorporated into the program. Finally, a 5-10 minute cooldown drew each session to a close. For the cooldown, the participants held hands together, swaying in a circle while immersing deeply into a musical experience.

The verdict: does music actually help us recover?

Did music make a difference? It certainly did in this study! Patients who engaged in the music-infused exercise program had overall better mood and rehab outcomes. Compared to rehab alone, rehab paired with music helped stroke patients recovery strength in their weaker side. They also reported better mood and a positive emotional response to the experience. The research proves what we already know, that music is good for the body and soul!

Tune in today to your favorite jams!

It’s a no-brainer that music can make rehab a more enjoyable experience. But now, there’s data to suggest that it does more than just make us happy. There’s no harm in listening to some old tunes that you love. The best part is that it’s free, and it can help you keep a positive attitude during the difficult time of stroke recovery. Talk with your therapist today to see if you can incorporate music into your exercise regime!

The lead author of this study was Dr. George Fotakopoulos, Department of Neurosurgery, University Hospital of Patras, in Patra, Greece.

Editorial note:

Patients who participated in a music-enriched rehab program showed increased strength and improvements in mood.

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