Patients move to the beat with music therapy project

02 September 2019

Patients move to the beat with music therapy project
Patients recovering from a stroke at Charing Cross Hospital are benefiting from a Neurologic Music Therapy project designed to aid rehabilitation.

With funding from Imperial Health Charity, staff at Charing Cross have partnered with Chroma Therapies to deliver Neurological Music Therapy (NMT) sessions for patients who have suffered a stroke.

The therapy uses a neuroscientific model of music as a physiological and cognitive stimulus for patients, working to enhance their language capabilities and movement to contribute to a speedier recovery. Music therapists work as a part of a multidisciplinary team that includes speech and language therapists, physiotherapists, and occupational therapists, to provide all-round care to patients.

Chroma’s music therapist, Charlie Flint, uses a specific set of NMT techniques to engage with the patients. He explained that the sessions assist with speech and language rehabilitation, with patients showing “immediate effects with Melodic Intonation Therapy”, singing words that they were previously unable to speak.

Activities for patients include beating drums in time with music, especially focussing on activating sides of the body affected by stroke, and walking assisted to music, using rhythm to prime and entrain patients stride (cadence) with the beat. 

Not only are patients able to improve their cognitive processing, after just one session there have also been “significant improvements in gait and balance”.

Charlie added: “You see a difference in patients’ wellbeing too, especially in terms of groups. We have an open music therapy group, which is much more about promoting solidarity between members in the ward and them coming together to share their experience of what it’s like to have a stroke. It’s quite a powerful thing for them to be able to not just receive care, but actually give care to someone else.”

Over the course of the project patients have shown signs of a quicker recovery, as well as enjoying the therapy.

Staff working on the ward said the sessions were “one of the most anticipated moments for patients”, with over 95% agreeing that NMT enhances the “traditional” therapeutic interventions the hospital offers.

Charing Cross’ Clinical Lead Speech and Language Therapist, Karima Collins, has led on implementing the Chroma project.  She said: “The benefits have been remarkable. Rehabilitation measurements have shown that individual patients have made great gains. One patient summarised the effects of NMT beautifully saying ‘it heals you in other ways, not just your physical but your mental [self]’.”

The nine-month project ends in September.

To find out more about the charity’s grants programme, please click here.

Music therapy is one of the Allied Health Professions, and in the UK music therapists are regulated by the Health and Care Professions Council. Chroma are the UK’s leading provider of Neurologic Music Therapy services, working in partnership with NHS, private and charitable organisations and the Academy of Neurologic Music Therapy, USA.