Music based interventions are becoming more and more popular in the treatment of stroke and Parkinson's disease patients, but is there evidence to support this practice? Well, according to a study published in November 2016 (Moumdjian, L., et al), music based interventions had similar or even better results than conventional rehabilitation.
They analyzed 19 research studies that used various forms of music based interventions with patients who were stroke survivors or who had Parkinson's disease or other neurological disorders. They found improvements from music based interventions in cognitive skills, fine motor skills, mobility, and upper limb function.
They found rhythm-based music interventions improved gait in stroke, Parkinson's disease, and multiple sclerosis. Listening-based music interventions were especially helpful for verbal memory and focused attention for stroke patients.
Music has also been found to improve mood, motivation, and compliance with treatment programs. I recommend using headphones to deliver optimal music quality and enjoyment. Bone conduction headphones can be used by patients who have hearing loss. They can even be worn by patients at the same time as they are wearing hearing aids, because they transmit sound through the bones directly in front of the ear canal, instead of through the ear canal.
Find music which is the most pleasurable to the patient to maximize the effect of music to raise dopamine levels naturally. Dopamine is a neurochemical which is released when we feel pleasure. Listening to music that is enjoyable to the patient will help to optimize dopamine for improved mood, senses, memory, energy, and motivation.
1. Effectiveness of music-based interventions on motricity or cognitive functioning in neurological populations: a systematic review. Moumdjian L1, Sarkamo T, Leone C, Leman M, Feys P. Eur J Phys Rehabil Med. 2016 Nov 23. [Epub ahead of print]