By Victoria Gill
Science reporter, BBC News, San Diego
Teaching stroke patients to sing “rewires” their brains, helping them recover their speech, say scientists.
By singing, patients use a different area of the brain from the area involved in speech.
If a person’s “speech centre” is damaged by a stroke, they can learn to use their “singing centre” instead.
Researchers presented these findings at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in San Diego.
An ongoing clinical trial, they said, has shown how the brain responds to this “melodic intonation therapy”.
Gottfried Schlaug, a neurology professor at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School in Boston, US, led the trial.
The therapy is already established as a medical technique. Researchers first used it when it was discovered that stroke patients with brain damage that left them unable to speak were still able to sing.
Professor Schlaug explained that his was the first study to combine this therapy with brain imaging – “to show what is actually going on in the brain” as patients learn to sing their words…
Within the past month, three individuals who are close to my family have been affected by strokes. It seems like they are happening more frequently as I grow older, but luckily research and medicine has improved that the three individuals that had strokes all lived. Only one was impacted severely, which is why I was appalled by this article and new discovery. The one individual, who the stroke affected the most, is now a paraplegic. He waited too long to go get an MRI after he was feeling some pain and discomfort in his arm and had his stroke in the night. He now needs to be fed by his wife and children, cannot walk, talk or pretty much anything for that matter. It is so upsetting to see how individuals take their health for granted or completely disregard their symptoms. If he had gone to the hospital before going to bed he wouldn’t be in this situation.
My mother spoke to his wife and she says it is as if they are sitting there watching him die helplessly. That is why this new research discovery seems like a blessing, because it can help individuals like my family’s friend gain some of their senses back. It seems like such a small gesture, but I am sure that it helps the patient feel a little hope.
I can only wish and hope that this new method can actually help individuals affected by strokes be able to attain some of their skills…like talking.
Check out the full article: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8526699.stm