Music as Medicine: How enjoying music can help stroke recovery

Research by Soto et al, 2009 has indicated that listening music can reduce visual neglect in stroke patients. This may seem like a strong claim to make, but the results speak for themselves.

Brain damage as a result of a stroke can lead to impaired visual awareness, usually by ignoring the space on one side of their body, and in severe cases this can also lead to neglecting limbs. This in turn leads to problems interacting with objects in the environment. This is clearly a big problem when related to rehabilitation and recovery after a stroke; if you aren’t paying attention to half of your visual environment, how do you get around in your daily life safely? Simple acts of crossing the road can become a serious problem if you don’t pay attention to any traffic coming from one direction.

In the past 20 years there have been many different suggestions on how to draw patients’ attention back to their neglected side of vision. These include the use of prism glasses, which cause patients’ line of vision to be moved towards the neglected side, and reducing vision on patients ‘good’ side of vision to increase their dependence on the ‘bad’ side. Most methods have shown in some cases to have an effect, but often these take training, time and effort to work, which can often be a problem for recovering patients.

Continue reading