It's common for people to be left with communication difficulties after a stroke. They might not be able to read, find their words or string together sentences in ways that make sense. This can feel very isolating and can make it harder for them to do things on their own, like going to the shops.
Speech and language therapy can help and we've also found, through our Stroke Support groups, that singing might help too.
So we’ve funded research into singing in recovery, asking questions like ‘what makes a successful singing support group?’ And ‘why is singing helpful for people who can no longer communicate clearly?’
Our research found stroke survivors were keen to take part in group singing sessions, led by specially trained musicians and a stroke survivor with communication difficulties themselves. They looked forward to it each week.
Researchers involved in the ‘Singing for people with aphasia’ study (SPA) think that group singing might help in recovery as people make closer connections with others, rebuilding their social networks and confidence needed for recovery.
For singing to be offered as a therapy for stroke, we need research to find out which programmes could make a difference and for who. And this research takes us a beat in the right direction.
Dr Mark Tarrant states that "it's important for people to rebuild social connections and confidence that can be devastated by stroke. Each week, the coffee breaks seemed to get longer and people arrived earlier so they had more time to spend together."
A spotlight on singing in Stroke Support
We asked people at Stroke Support groups in Northern Ireland, who had started doing singing and music activities, what they thought. We found that almost everyone was positive about the sessions.
They said they felt like socialising more, relaxed and their mood improved.
We continue to work with researchers and our Stroke Support groups to find out how activities, like group singing, could help people to rebuild their lives after stroke.