Strokes are complicated. One minute you're running around planning the weekend, and the next you're struggling to speak and to walk. Because of the complex issues involved, treatments are also both complex and evolving. Did you know that one form of treatment advocates tying up the patient's good arm, and forcing them to use the weakened arm? It's called Constraint-Induced Movement Therapy (CIMT). Sure, the name is impressive, but it still means being tied up.
Aren't there any easier stroke therapies?
You're in luck. Researchers from the University of Helsinki say stroke therapy may be as easy as a lazy afternoon with a bit of background music. They looked at 60 stroke patients and assessed the impact of listening to music. Not a music lover? Well, if you've had a stroke, you should be.
The scientists separated the stroke patients into two groups: one group listened to music, or to audio books, while the second group listened to no music. Three months later, the researchers measured improvements in verbal memory and ability to focus attention.
The music lovers were the big winners.
Those patients who listened to music each day showed a 60% improvement in verbal memory, compared to 29% for the non-listeners. Oddly, the audio book group showed the least improvement, at only 18%. The music lovers also showed a 17% improvement in their ability to focus.
The scientists are unsure whether the music activates the damaged portions of the brain as they recover, or activate more general areas of the brain that allow the neural networks to be repaired. Further study will be needed.
If you're a stroke victim, add a little music therapy to your day. You'll not only find the time passes more quickly, but it may actually help you get back into your dancing shoes a little sooner than you expected.To read more about the study, see this from Reuters. To learn more about strokes, see this from the National Stroke Association.