Music helps neuro-rehabilitation patients

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A new study suggesting live music can help hospital neuro-rehabilitation patients has won an outstanding innovation award.

University psychologist Dr David Wilkinson is working with hospital clinicians and ward staff on a project to find a new way of helping patients recover from brain damage by using live music performance.

The collaboration, between academics, clinicians and musicians, was recognised with the runner-up prize in the category for Outstanding Service Innovation at this year’s East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Award Night.

The innovative project took place on the Harvey Neuro-Rehabilitation Ward at the Kent & Canterbury Hospital in Canterbury. The patients, whose conditions include acquired brain injury, low awareness state, tumour and MS, attended twice-weekly interactive live music concerts over a six-week period, performed by professional musicians. The concerts were conducted in the ward’s day room and lasted one hour, including classical, jazz, world and folk music.

The project found that patient and staff wellbeing was markedly increased following the live performances, with additional gains evident in cognitive function. From a practical perspective, the project also confirmed the feasibility of conducting projects of this unconventional nature on busy in-patient wards – an important prerequisite for further study.

Dr Wilkinson, of the University’s School of Psychology, said the innovation award acknowledged the profound effects that music therapy has on patient and staff experience, and he has now set his sights on a larger-scale study to determine the optimal ‘recipe’ for live music therapy. His longer-term ambition is to extend the therapy to other patient groups resident on different hospital wards.

Dr Wilkinson is working on the project with Dr Mohamed Sakel, Director/Consultant Neuro-Rehabilitation at East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust andLive Music Now – the UKs leading musicians’ development and outreach organisation.

For more information contact Dr David Wilkinson.

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