Music helps stroke patients find their voice

CLEVELAND, OHIO; February 4, 2013

Research at the Cleveland Clinic shows music therapy can help stroke patients overcome aphasia.

That's where you know what you want to say, but can't get it out.

Therapists say music, which is processed through the RIGHT side of the brain, can retrain the LEFT side, which controls language and speech.

Music, lyrics and instruments are all used in the sessions to 55-year-old Bill Forrester, a college professor who suffered a major strke on the left side of his brain 4 years ago.

At the time of his stroke, Bill's prognosis wasn't good.

"The doctor…she said Bill is lost," he says his family was told.

And Bill says felt trapped in his body by the aphasia.

"You know I was a public speaker before. I love talking," he said.

Lisa Gallagher, a Cleveland Clinic music therapist, says, "We work on his speech through singing and we also do some fine motor skills with him playing on the keyboard and the guitar."

"I don't want to say I'm an artist but I love the arts. I want my life again. I will be whole again," he says.

The professor who couldn't walk or talk four years ago has surpassed everyone's expectations. He is now running marathons, singing, and plans to go to Mexico to teach children how to speak English.

Gallagher says you don't need a musical background to benefit from music therapy. She says it can help with a variety of conditions, like anxiety, depression, or pain.

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