Case Studies:

Chroma Therapists changing lives of people who suffered a Stroke

Every patient seen by a Chroma is different. Each day is never the same.

That’s certainly the case for Lucy, who suffered a stroke.

She presented to A&E with dense left-sided weakness, aphasia and vomiting. CT scans revealed that she had suffered from a right intracerebral haemorrhage.

Lucy was referred to Chroma for Neurologic Music Therapy to address poor breath support, reduced voice volume and monotonous voice quality.

Chroma often works with patients who suffer from monotonous voice quality due to Stroke. And through singing, they can help the patient increase vocal range and emotion in their voice, motivating patients to become more aware of their voice and themselves.

Unfortunately, Lucy’s condition didn’t stop there. She also presented with various cognitive-communication difficulties, including reduced awareness of her communication impairment, reduced initiation, misunderstanding of abstract language and difficulties understanding non-verbal communication.

How did Neurologic Music Therapy help?

Chroma therapists adopted the use of Neurologic Music Therapy and provided Vocal Intonation Therapy (VIT) to gradually improve the range of Lucy’s vocal pitch and to improve vocal modulation to give more emotion to her speech. Therapeutic Singing (TS) was then implemented to incorporate breath support strategies, voice volume and pitch whilst singing songs that Lucy had chosen and were important to her. The songs need to be personal for them to have the most effect.

Therapists believed, following initial conversations with Lucy, that she seemed very literal and gave the impression of reduced emotional affect. But further interaction with her proved that not to be the case.

A song chosen by Lucy, sung by herself and the therapist, struck a chord with Lucy. The lyrics hit too close to home for her. It was a Chase and Status song called ‘When it all goes wrong’.

Lucy immediately drew a comparison between the song lyrics and her situation. She became visibly upset, which allowed the therapist to develop the conversation, discuss the lyrics in the song and how she felt the lyrics related to her.

During this conversation, Lucy demonstrated a remarkable ability to look at the meaning behind the lyrics and was able to grasp more abstract phrases, a skill she seemed to lack in general conversation. Also, she was able to discuss was her motivation around her therapy and her incentive to keep going, which was previously thought to not have been possible this early on in therapy based on her apparent reduced emotional affect.

NMT also helped improve her cognitive impairments enabling her to pick up on non-verbal cues to increase the volume and intensity of the singing by responding to the volume at which the therapist played. Lucy’s ability to interpret abstract language and humour also improved.

NMT significantly improved Lucy’s condition

Thanks to Neurologic Music Therapy, Lucy’s condition improved dramatically after just three months. VIT and TS had had a positive influence upon her vocal pitch, volume, inflection and tone. Her breath support considerably improved, and she began to be more animated in conversation. Family members even stated she sounded like her ‘old self’.

Her therapy sessions continue and she is able to think of songs to sing during sessions that revolve around themes of strength and fighting adversity. Lucy and her therapist can address her functional speech and cognitive goals through singing, whilst also being emotionally supportive.

NMT when used alongside other conventional therapies, has been found to improve the rate of recovery of those who have suffered a stroke. This is due to the complex nature of the brain being able to connect automatically with music. The damaged part of Lucy’s brain which controlled her speech and motor skills was inaccessible, so through the use of music, therapists were able to create new neural pathways in Lucy’s brain for her to be able to re-learn speech and motor skills.

The effect Neurologic Music Therapy has had upon Lucy is astounding. The Stroke affected her speech considerably and therapy has enabled her to improve all aspects of speech that were affected. The therapy for her mental wellbeing, which ensued as a result of her connection with music, has also allowed her to come to terms with her condition and face the outlook of her diagnosis positively. This has, in turn, allowed her to feel comfortable being more animated in conversation instead of being consumed by feelings of depression and is more engaged with therapy with hope for a great recovery outcome.