little horsing around to music may be good
therapy for stroke survivors.
In a study published in the American Heart
Association journal Stroke, horseback riding and
rhythm-and-music therapies improved survivors’
A variety of interventions that engage patients
in physical, sensory, cognitive and social activities
simultaneously target a range of functions. Researchers said
the combination of different activities and stimuli — rather
than the individual components — appear to produce
additional beneficial effects for stroke recovery.
“Significant improvements are still possible, even years
after a stroke, using motivating, comprehensive therapies
provided in stimulating physical and social surroundings
to increase brain activity and
recovery,” said Michael Nilsson,
M.D., Ph.D., director of the
Hunter Medical Research
Institute and professor at
the University of Newcastle
in Australia and University of
Researchers studied 123
Swedish men and women
who had suffered strokes 10
months to five years earlier.
Survivors were randomly
assigned to rhythm-and-music
therapy, horse-riding therapy or
ordinary care twice a week for
Among those who said
their perception of recovery
increased, 56 percent were
in the horse-riding group, 38
percent in the rhythm-and-music group and 17 percent in
the usual care group.
The perception of recovery was sustained at three-month and six-month follow-ups.
Horse-riding therapy produces a multisensory
environment and the three-dimensional movements of
the horse’s back create a sensory experience that closely
resembles normal human gait.
In rhythm-and-music therapy, patients listen to music
while performing rhythmic and cognitively demanding hand
and feet movements to visual and audio cues. Researchers
found that the rhythm-and-music activity helped survivors
with balance, grip strength and working memory.
Further analyses of the study results and follow-up
studies involving more participants are planned to help
determine efficiency, timing and costs.
Giddy up and jam:
Horses, music may
boost stroke recovery
By American Heart Association News