Royal Philharmonic ‘Strokestra’ visits stroke patients at UCI for rehabilitation workshop

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LOS ANGELES (KABC) — Since his wife passed away, Terry Taylor said reading has become his greatest passion.

However, the headaches he’s experienced have rendered him unable to do that. So, he turned to his second passion.

“I couldn’t read because I was too sick, so I just put on some soft music in the background and relax and hope the headaches would go away,” he said.

Taylor is one of the stroke patients and caregivers who participated in a rehabilitation workshop called “Strokestra.” The program is led by musicians from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra based in London.

“We have been running it for about 10 years back at home in the UK,” said Sali-Wyn Ryan, a member of the orchestra.

“We’re interested in understanding how this works. We know that when people play music, it engages many, many different parts of the brain,” said Dr. Lisa Gibbs, chief of geriatric medicine at UCI Health. “The motor areas, the sensory areas, coordination, balance and how all those pathways work together.”

UCI Health’s Senior Health Center teamed up with the orchestra, clinicians, and students and faculty from the UCI Claire Trevor School of the Arts. A 2020 study on behalf of the American Neurological Association found vocal music is an effective tool to support cognitive recovery after a stroke.

The musicians notice some of the emotional effects of music in stroke survivors.

“People that, perhaps, have been concerned about leaving their own homes after having a stroke and then suddenly, it gives them a little purpose,” said Ryan. “It gives them something to aim for.”

“We’re so grateful to have the Royal Philharmonic here demonstrating their unique program. They really innovated this, and this is the first time it’ll be demonstrated here on the West Coast,” said Gibbs.

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