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Soothing music is a healer for stroke patients

PUBLISHED: 10:44 27 March 2009 | UPDATED: 16:03 07 September 2010

Sanchez Manning LISTENING to pleasant music could help restore vision in stroke patients, according to a new report. Every year, an estimated 150,000 people in the UK have a stroke and up to 60 per cent have impaired vision as a result. But the latest res

Sanchez Manning

LISTENING to pleasant music could help restore vision in stroke patients, according to a new report.

Every year, an estimated 150,000 people in the UK have a stroke and up to 60 per cent have impaired vision as a result.

But the latest research has revealed that patients who lose their vision after a stroke can show an improved ability to see when they hear music they like.

The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal this week, was led by scientists from Paddington-based Imperial College NHS Trust.

Dr David Soto, the lead author of the study from Imperial's neurosciences and mental health department, said: "Visual neglect can be a very distressing condition for stroke patients. It has a big effect on their day-to-day lives.

"For example, in extreme cases, patients with visual neglect may eat only the food on the right side of their plate, or shave only half of their face, thus failing to react to certain objects in the environment.

"We wanted to see if music would improve visual awareness in these patients by influencing the individual's emotional state.

"Our results are very promising. Music appears to improve awareness because of its positive emotional effect on the patient, so similar beneficial effects may also be gained by making the patient happy in other ways."

The new study looked at three patients who had lost awareness of half of their field of vision as a result of a stroke. They completed tasks under three conditions: listening to preferred music, listening to music they did not like and in silence.

All three patients could identify coloured shapes and red lights in their depleted side of vision much more accurately while they were listening to their preferred music.

Researchers believe this could be as a result of patients experiencing positive emotions when listening to music they like.


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