Impact Factor


Original Research ARTICLE

Front. Hum. Neurosci., 20 May 2014 | http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2014.00315

Music-supported motor training after stroke reveals no superiority of synchronization in group therapy

  • 1Institute of Music Physiology and Musicians' Medicine, University of Music, Drama, and Media Hanover, Hanover, Germany
  • 2Lyon Neuroscience Research Center, CNRS-UMR 5292, INSERM U1028, University Claude Bernard Lyon-1, Lyon, France
  • 3BDH-Klinik, Institute for Neurorehabilitational Research (InFo), Teaching Hospital of Hanover Medical School, Hessisch Oldendorf, Germany

Background: Music-supported therapy has been shown to be an effective tool for rehabilitation of motor deficits after stroke. A unique feature of music performance is that it is inherently social: music can be played together in synchrony.

Aim: The present study explored the potential of synchronized music playing during therapy, asking whether synchronized playing could improve fine motor rehabilitation and mood.

Method: Twenty-eight patients in neurological early rehabilitation after stroke with no substantial previous musical training were included. Patients learned to play simple finger exercises and familiar children's songs on the piano for 10 sessions of half an hour. Patients first received three individual therapy sessions and then continued in pairs. The patient pairs were divided into two groups. Patients in one group played synchronously (together group) whereas the patients in the other group played one after the other (in-turn group). To assess fine motor skill recovery the patients performed standard clinical tests such as the nine-hole-pegboard test (9HPT) and index finger-tapping speed and regularity, and metronome-paced finger tapping. Patients' mood was established using the Profile of Mood States (POMS).

Results: Both groups showed improvements in fine motor control. In metronome-paced finger tapping, patients in both groups improved significantly. Mood tests revealed reductions in depression and fatigue in both groups. During therapy, patients in the in-turn group rated their partner as more sympathetic than the together-group in a visual-analog scale.

Conclusions: Our results suggest that music-supported stroke rehabilitation can improve fine motor control and mood not only individually but also in patient pairs. Patients who were playing in turn rather than simultaneously tended to reveal greater improvement in fine motor skill. We speculate that patients in the former group may benefit from the opportunity to learn from observation.

Keywords: stroke rehabilitation, music therapy, motor improvement, synchronization, social, shared experience, mood

Citation: Van Vugt FT, Ritter J, Rollnik JD and Altenmüller E (2014) Music-supported motor training after stroke reveals no superiority of synchronization in group therapy. Front. Hum. Neurosci. 8:315. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2014.00315

Received: 17 December 2013; Accepted: 28 April 2014;
Published online: 20 May 2014.

Edited by:

Isabelle Peretz, Université de Montréal, Canada

Reviewed by:

Virginia Penhune, Concordia University, Canada
Alissa Fourkas, National Institutes of Health, USA

Copyright © 2014 Van Vugt, Ritter, Rollnik and Altenmüller. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

*Correspondence: Floris T. Van Vugt, Institute of Music Physiology and Musicians' Medicine, University of Music, Drama and Media Hanover, Emmichplatz 1, 30175 Hanover, Germany e-mail: f.t.vanvugt@gmail.com

These authors have contributed equally to this work.