PORTLAND, Ore. -- It steals your speech, scrambles your thoughts and robs you of your ability to move. Stroke is the third leading cause of death in America and the number one cause of disability. Now, some stroke victims are turning to song to get their voices back.
Different stroke patients, similar stories.
“I woke up and I was numb on one side,” said Barbara Pope.
“I cannot move my right arm,” said Lee Jordan.
“It’s all in there, it’s in there, but I can’t have it outlet,” Phil Liu.
A stroke left Liu unable to speak.
“The only word I could say was yes,” Liu said.
Music got him talking again. Patients at the Oregon Stroke Center gather each week to sing. New research suggests singing or playing music, maybe even just hearing it, helps rewire the brain after a stroke.
“Music is represented more in the right side of the brain in most people, and language more on the left side,” said Helmi Lutsep, MD, Professor of Neurology at the Oregon Health & Science University.
Doctors are trying to use music to move language skills from one side of the brain to the other.
“Maybe we can allow language also to, um, sort of rewire itself,” Dr. Lutsep said.
And it may never be too late.
“We’ve done trials with people as late as 17 years out from their stroke and they still showed improvement,” Dr. Lutsep explained.
New studies out of Temple University found that music not only affects a person’s motor abilities, but also lowered stroke patients’ blood pressure, heart rate, and level of anxiety.