Listening to music improves the mood and cognition of stroke patients

01-02-2008. Listening to music in the first time after a stroke can help the patient's recovery. Finnish researchers at Helsingfors University compared patients who listened to music for a few hours a day to patients who listened to audiobooks or nothing. The music group performed better on regaining memory and attention and was generally in a better mental state.

According to the present study by the Brain journal, music could be particularly useful for those patients who are not yet ready for other forms of rehabilitation. The study focused on 60 stroke patients who were integrated as soon as possible after hospital admission. The aim was to offer the music before the possible changes in the brain after a stroke took place. Most of the patients had problems with movement and cognitive processes such as attention and memory. All patients received standard rehabilitation.

After three months, the speech memory in the music group had improved by 60%. The audiobook group achieved 18% and the patients who had not heard 29% improvement. Concentrated attention, the ability to control mental operations, perform and solve problems increased for the music group by 17%. There was no change in the other two groups. In addition, the patients in the music group were less depressed or confused. The study also points out that in the first weeks and months after the stroke, patients spend three quarters of the day doing non-therapeutic activities. Most of the time, they stay in their room with no activities or interaction. But this time can be used ideally with music therapy for training the brain.

Särkämö et al. (2008): Music Listening enhances cognitive recovery and mood after middle cerebral artery stroke. Brain 2007. free online access:

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