Music, specifically singing, can help support stroke survivors who have trouble with language. Around 40% of stroke survivors have trouble comprehending or producing spoken or written language. Singing-based rehabilitation can support the communication and speech production of patients and increase social activity even at the chronic phase of stroke, finds research.
Singing-based therapy can help patients and their family improve their psychological and language functioning. Group intervention provides opportunities for peer support while being simultaneously cost-effective.
Aphasia, a cerebrovascular accident-related impairment in understanding or generating spoken or written language, affects about 40% of stroke survivors. One year after the stroke, the linguistic deficit is still present in 50% of these individuals. The quality of life and functional abilities of stroke survivors are greatly impacted by aphasia, which also frequently results in social isolation.
A recent study from the University of Helsinki found that even in the chronic phase of stroke, singing-based group rehabilitation can help patients communicate and produce speech, as well as boost social interaction. The study participants who were family carers also reported a significant reduction in their burden.
“Our study is the first where caregivers participated in rehabilitation and their psychological well-being was evaluated,” says Postdoctoral Researcher Sini-Tuuli Siponkoski.
What is Aphasia?
The language disorder aphasia is brought on by injury to a particular region of the brain that regulates language understanding and expression. A person with aphasia finds it difficult to interact with others.
Many stroke victims experience aphasia. Equal numbers of men and women are impacted, and most aphasia sufferers are middle-aged or older.
Aphasia comes in a variety of forms. The extent of the injury and the damaged area on the language-dominant side of the brain are typically used to make the diagnosis. For instance, the frontal lobe of the language-dominant side of the brain is damaged in people with Broca aphasia.
The side region of the language-dominant brain is damaged in those with Wernicke aphasia.
Versatile use of music supports recovery
Previous studies have shown that even in cases with severe aphasia, singing ability can be retained. Nonetheless, there hasn’t been much research done on the application of singing—particularly choral singing—in aphasia recovery.
“Our study utilized a wide variety of singing elements, such as choral singing, melodic intonation therapy, and tablet-assisted singing training,” clarifies Doctoral Researcher Anni Pitkäniemi.
In melodic intonation treatment, singing is gradually transitioned to speech production using melody and rhythm.
A certified choir director and a certified music therapist oversaw the study’s rehabilitation sessions.
New and effective forms of rehabilitation needed
Melodic intonation therapy has been utilized in aphasia rehabilitation in addition to speech therapy. Individual therapy has traditionally been used in therapy, which is quite resource intensive.
The researchers recommend using singing-based group therapy in healthcare settings for the purpose of aphasia rehabilitation.
“In addition to training in speech production, group-based rehabilitation provides an excellent opportunity for peer support both for the patients and their families,” says Sini-Tuuli Siponkoski.
Materials provided by the University of Helsinki. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/ Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
Sini-Tuuli Siponkoski, Anni Pitkäniemi, Sari Laitinen, Essi-Reetta Särkämö, Emmi Pentikäinen, Heidi Eloranta, Leena Tuomiranta, Susanna Melkas, Gottfried Schlaug, Aleksi J Sihvonen, Teppo Särkämö. Efficacy of a multicomponent singing intervention on communication and psychosocial functioning in chronic aphasia: a randomized controlled crossover trial. Brain Communications, 2022; DOI: 10.1093/braincomms/fcac337
University of Helsinki. “Singing supports stroke rehabilitation.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 December 2022. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/12/221229115713.htm>.
Help is here:
Toll-Free Mental Health Rehabilitation Helpline Kiran (1800-599-0019)
Name of the Organisation: Music as Therapy, India
Music as Therapy is based in Hyderabad. Since 2015 it has supported caregivers to introduce music for children with learning disabilities and autism. Most recently the institute has been considering the ways music might help local carers for people living with dementia.
Contact : firstname.lastname@example.org