ATLANTA—Simple mobile health technology may soon provide stroke patients with piano therapy at home, according to a pilot study conducted by five Georgia State University researchers.
Stroke rehabilitation therapy is often delayed or impeded by the patient’s inability to travel for rehabilitation.
The study, led by Dr. Yi-An Chen, assistant professor of occupational therapy in the Byrdine F. Lewis College of Nursing and Health Professions, and Dr. Martin Norgaard, associate professor of music education in the School of Music, may help improve outcomes in homebound patients. Patients in the study, a small sample of homebound stroke survivors, showed positive motor performance results.
The stroke survivors, who had impairment of upper extremity motor function and the ability to follow instructions, participated in a three-week study using a portable electric piano and a commercial iPad app, Yousician. Participants were encouraged to play the piano assisted by the app for at least one hour per day. At the end of the study, the participants showed good training compliance and gave positive feedback.
Chen and Norgaard shared their initial findings via a conference abstract in the American Journal of Occupational Therapy. The researchers found participants enjoyed the piano therapy, and when interviewed, 80 percent said they were motivated for rehabilitation by playing the piano. Also, 40 percent indicated they wanted to keep playing, if possible. Chen and Norgaard will present further results and details in a poster session at the Georgia Occupational Therapy Association virtual conference in October.
“We are pleased with the positive results of this pilot study, which demonstrate the feasibility and the effects of in-home piano therapy using a mobile app for individuals with stroke,” Norgaard said.
Chen said the team is applying for additional grants to test the therapy and app with a larger group of stroke survivors and to examine opportunities to extend the therapy to other types of patients such as those with Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis. The researchers also want to create a training app specifically for this project.
“We are currently working on applying for a few different grants to develop our own app, which will allow us to better tailor the rehab piano training for patients, allow telecommunication between patients and therapists, and will be more patient-friendly,” Chen said.
Chen and Norgaard received initial funding from a Byrdine. F. Lewis College of Nursing and Health Professions internal research grant.