Guidelines in stroke rehabilitation recommend the use of a multidisciplinary approach. Different approaches and techniques with music are used in the stroke rehabilitation to improve motor and cognitive functions but also psychological outcomes. In this randomized controlled pilot trial, relational active music therapy approaches were tested in the post-acute phase of disease. Thirty-eight hospitalized patients with ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke were recruited and allocated in two groups. The experimental group underwent the standard of care (physiotherapy and occupational therapy daily sessions) and relational active music therapy treatments. The control group underwent the standard of care only. Motor functions and psychological aspects were assessed before and after treatments. Music therapy process was also evaluated using a specific rating scale. All groups showed a positive trend in quality of life, functional and disability levels, and gross mobility. The experimental group showed a decrease of anxiety and, in particular, of depression (p = 0.016). In addition, the strength of non-dominant hand (grip) significantly increased in the experimental group (p = 0.041). Music therapy assessment showed a significant improvement over time of non-verbal and sonorous-music relationships. Future studies, including a greater number of patients and follow-up evaluations, are needed to confirm promising results of this study.
Keywords: Communication; Motor outcomes; Music therapy; Psychological outcomes; Rehabilitation; Stroke.