Percussion therapy explored in pilot study

Research shows benefits of percussion to brain and arm and hand function.

  Percussion music used as therapy can potentially transform the care for those who suffer speech loss or other damage when the blood flow to their brain is cut off. The research from Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, which featured in the Daily Mail, found that patients taking part in percussion sessions twice a week improved the function in their arms and hands. Dr Alexander Street, from Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, said instruments that produce sound from being hit or scraped enable patients with less severe impairments to re-learn essential tasks such as dressing. “Gripping a drumstick involves the same movement as opening a jar, for example,” said Dr Street, a music therapist at the Music for Health Research Centre. “The sound and vibration from playing also causes the hearing parts of the brain to connect more with the movement parts. It helps people build new pathways to replace those lost by stroke damage.” The article said the advantage of percussion exercises is that they do not require musical expertise, and the strong repetitive beat improves learning by boosting brain focus. Dr Street’s research, published in the journal Clinical Rehabilitation, investigated the need for long-term support programmes for people leaving hospital or recovering.  The research involved 10 adult stroke patients receiving 30-minute percussion sessions at home with a music therapist over 6 weeks. Improvement was measured by asking patients to pick up and then move objects. Those with the least physical impairment performed best in the movement tests. Dr Street is now working with patients on acute care wards. This separate study at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge suggests percussion therapy increases energy levels and mood among those taking part. Music therapy in addition to medication is increasingly recognised as beneficial for those suffering from depression, brain injury and dementia.
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