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Can music therapy restore vision?

24th March 2009

A UK study has suggested that hearing music could aid the return of impaired eyesight in stroke patients.

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The study by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showed that music can be used to help impaired vision.

Impaired vision is experienced by up to 60% of stroke patients. A patient may lose the ability to see objects in the other side of their field of vision to where the stroke has damaged their brain.

A stroke patient's eyesight is affected due to the impairment of the parts of their brain which control "vision, attention and action" and can cause problems.

The researchers studied three patients who had experienced visual impairment and watched them carry out tasks while they listened to music that pleased them, music which did not please them and without any music being played. 

The researchers found the subjects could recognise coloured shapes and red lights on their damaged side far better when they listened to their favourite music.

One subject could see lights 65% of the time when listening to music he liked, but only 15% of the time when hearing music he did not like, or when it was not played at all.

Lead researcher Dr David Soto, from Imperial College London, said: "Visual neglect can be a very distressing condition for stroke patients. It has a big effect on their day-to-day lives.

"Our findings suggest that we should think more carefully about the individual emotional factors in patients with visual neglect and in other neurological patients following a stroke."

 

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