Listening to music may improve stroke recovery

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A new study suggests that listening to music and mindful music may improve the cognitive recovery of stroke victims.

The research was conducted by the Universities of Glasgow, Edinburgh, and East Anglia alongside NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

The paper, published in the International Journal of Stroke, studied the feasibility and effectiveness of daily music listening and mindfulness techniques for stroke recovery.

Dr Satu Baylan, from the University of Glasgow’s Institute of Health and Wellbeing, is the paper’s lead author.

Dr Baylan said: “People who have suffered a stroke are often left with cognitive difficulties that affect the ability to concentrate and remember information.

“Many people also experience low mood and anxiety, which can have a negative impact on recovery and their level of engagement in everyday activities.

“We were keen to investigate whether combining music listening with mindfulness might help address some of the difficulties that people commonly face after a stroke using an approach that can potentially be both enjoyable and accessible.

“The results suggest that this may indeed be the case.

The study found that all 72 participants were able to listen regularly, including those in the control group, which used audiobooks instead of music and mindfulness music.

Compared to the control group, the stroke patients who listened to the music demonstrated a better recovery of memory function.

Professor Jonathan Evans, the paper’s principal investigator and corresponding author, said: “This low-cost intervention, which can be done at home, may have positive benefits for people recovering from a stroke.

“What is particularly positive is that our results are consistent with another study done in Finland that also found that daily music listening improved memory and concentration, compared to audiobook listening or usual care.

“We’re very keen to investigate the potential benefit of mindful music listening in a larger study.”

The paper, titled ‘Measuring the effects of listening for leisure on outcome after stroke (MELLO): A pilot randomised controlled trial of mindful music listening’, is published in the International Journal of Stroke.