The Effect of Music and Audiobook Listening on People Recovering From Stroke: The Patient’s Point of View


  • Anita Forsblom MA
  • Teppo Särkämö MA
  • Sari Laitinen Lic. MusTh.
  • Mari Tervaniemi PhD



Recent experimental evidence suggests that musical activities can enhance motoric, cognitive, and emotional recovery after a stroke. The authors’ aim was to gain more insight about the emotional and psychological factors underlying the therapeutic effects of listening to music after a stroke, by combining both qualitative and quantitative methods. Thirty-nine patients who had suffered a stroke were interviewed about their subjective experiences when listening, on a daily basis, to either self-selected music (n 1⁄4 20) or audiobooks (n 1⁄4 19) during the first 2 months after the stroke. Results showed that music listening was specifically associated with better relaxation, increased motor activity, and improved mood, whereas both music and audiobook listening provided refreshing stimulation and evoked thoughts and memories about the past. These results highlight the clinical importance of providing stimulating and pleasant leisure activities after a stroke and further encourage the use of music in stroke rehabilitation.

Author Biographies

Anita Forsblom, MA

Anita Forsblom, MA, is a PhD student at the Department of Music of the University of Jyväskylä, Finland. She is also a Fellow of The Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music (FAMI) granted by the Association for Music and Imagery (USA) and works as a private practitioner of music therapy in Vantaa, Finland. Her research focuses on the therapeutic role of music listening on the recovery of cognitive, emotional and motor functions after acute stroke.

Teppo Särkämö, MA

Teppo Särkämö, MA, is a psychologist and researcher working at the Cognitive Brain Research Unit (Institute of Behavioural Sciences, University of Helsinki, Finland) and at the Finnish Centre of Excellence in Interdisciplinary Music Research (University of Jyväskylä, Finland). His main scientific interests are in the interplay of music, speech, cognition, and emotions in adult clinical patient groups, especially stroke and dementia patients. Specifically, his research focuses on the therapeutic impact of music on the recovery of cognitive, emotional and auditory functions in the brain.

Sari Laitinen, Lic. MusTh.

Sari Laitinen, Lic. MusTh., is a private practitioner music therapist and a research secretory working at the Miina Sillanpää Foundation, Finland. Her main interest is to develop practical and evidence-based music rehabilitation and therapy models for neurological patient groups, such as stroke and dementia patients, and to increase the therapeutic use of music in a multidisciplinary setting. She cooperates with the Finnish Centre of Excellence in Interdisciplinary Music Research (University of Jyväskylä, Finland) and is a member of the Scandinavian Music, Culture and Health organisation.

Mari Tervaniemi, PhD

Mari Tervaniemi (PhD in Psychology, University of Helsinki, 1997) has extensive expertise in cognitive neuroscience of music. She has published 100 empirical papers in peer-reviewed international journals and several influential book chapters and reviews. Their topics cover auditory neurocognition, modularity of speech vs. music perception, and neural determinants of musical expertise. Most recently she also began investigating the brain basis of music emotions. For further information, see



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