Research indicates art aids stroke recovery

Stroke survivors who like art have a significantly higher quality of life than those who do not, according to new research. Patients who appreciated music, painting and theatre recovered better from their stroke than patients who did not. The research was presented at the 12th Annual Spring Meeting on Cardiovascular Nursing, 16-17 March, in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The research asked 192 stroke survivors if they liked or did not like art (music, painting, theatre). Quality of life was compared for patients interested in art (105) and patients not interested in art (87).

Patients interested in art had better general health, found it easier to walk, and had more energy. They were also happier, less anxious or depressed, and felt calmer. They had better memory and were superior communicators (speaking with other people, understanding what people said, naming people and objects correctly).

Lead researcher Dr Vellone says: "Stroke survivors who saw art as an integrated part of their former lifestyle, by expressing appreciation towards music, painting and theatre, showed better recovery skills than those who did not."

"In our study the 'art' group of patients showed a comparable clinical picture to the 'no art' group," he adds. "This is important because it means that patients belonging to the 'art' group had a better quality of life independently from the gravity of stroke. The results suggest that art may make long term changes to the brain which help it recover when things go wrong."