Sunday, April 20, 2014

Music and Stroke Therapy: 4 Questions

Following is an article submitted by Lucy Lazarony on, March 13, 2014. Lucy interviewed Kyle and Lindsey Wilhelm who are music therapists at many of our Retreat & Refresh Stroke Camps. Kyle and Lindsey live in Iowa but attend many of our camps throughout the U.S.. They also travel to our national offices in Peoria, Illinois to help with planning the years camp themes and agendas.   

Posted by Lucy Lazarony on Mar 13 2014

Music and Stroke Therapy: 4 Questions

We spoke with Kyle and Lindsey Wilhelm about their innovative techniques of helping stroke survivors regain their speech and movement.

How does music therapy help stroke survivors with aphasia?

Music therapists often work in collaboration with speech-language pathologists to address speech and language skills with stroke survivors. Survivors who suffer from aphasia may have difficulty speaking, but during therapy discover that they can sing an entire song fluently.

This is because the part of the brain affected by the stroke that controls expressive language (known as Broca’s area) is localized in one area of the brain while music production (singing and playing instruments) and processing (receptive listening) activates multiple areas of the brain.

By using music, the therapist can work on skills using the non-damaged areas of the brain to help the survivor relearn how to do what the damaged area of the brain used to do.

How does music therapy help stroke survivors with their physical therapy? 

Music therapists also collaborate with physical therapists to help survivors regain functioning of both their upper and lower extremities as well as fine and gross motor skills. For example, the music therapy technique Rhythmic Auditory Stimulation (RAS) uses a steady, rhythmic pulse to help the survivor with their gait (walking). The survivor will naturally match the strong rhythmic pulse providing the temporal support to regulate individual steps and motivation to keep going.

How often should a stroke survivor meet with a music therapist?

The key to learning or relearning any skill is repetition. A typical frequency is 1-2 times per week, but additional therapy will likely improve physical and motor skills.

The music therapist can show the survivor ways to incorporate music into exercises prescribed by other therapists at home. By making the exercises more enjoyable, the survivor will be more likely to do them regularly, which can positively affect rehabilitation overall.  

How to find a music therapist in your local area.

1) Visit the American Music Therapy Association online directory.
2) Ask your speech therapist for a recommendation.
Like this article? Donate now to keep StrokeSmart free to anyone that needs it. StrokeSmart is not affiliated with Retreat & Refresh Stroke Camp. Any donations will go directly to StrokeSmart and not to Retreat & Refresh Stroke Camp. If you would like to visit the StrokeSmart web site go here: There are many excellent articles there pertaining to strokes. 

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