STROKESTRA is a pioneering collaboration between the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) and Hull Integrated Community Stroke Service (HICSS) which uses group creative music-making to drive patient-led rehabilitation work in stroke survivors and their carers.
Beginning in December 2014 with an intensive Research and Development phase which brought together professional musicians and stroke therapists to devise appropriate musical techniques for use with stroke patients, a pilot programme involving a series of intensive projects was carried out to test the intrinsic value of these specially-designed creative music workshops for a wide range of stroke rehabilitation needs including improved sensation, mobility, strength, flexibility, cognitive function, socialisation, communication, wellbeing and more.
From May to October 2015, a total of 40 patients and carers took part in 16 days of intensive project work during which they tried out instruments, listened to music, conducted musicians, improvised and created music alongside world-class professional musicians, all supporting their work towards their stroke recovery goals.
'In the first meeting where we brought the clients in, you slowly saw a change in them as the day went on; as they got more involved in the music. And as time’s gone on over the last six months, there’s just a transformation… there’s such a big difference in a lot of them – not just through mood but through physical movement, and also articulating. Some that have speech problems now are talking better – more fluent – and it’s just as if they’ve brought these people back to life, and it’s given them a purpose and something to look forward to.'
Sandra McGinnis, Associate Practitioner Occupational Therapy (NHS Humber Trust)
The pilot programme (funded by the Hull City Council Public Health department) culminated in a high-profile performance outcome ahead of the RPO’s season opening concert at Hull City Hall on Thursday 1 October 2015, featuring stroke survivors, carers, therapists and RPO musicians performing original pieces of music in a celebratory showcase of their creative and rehabilitative successes with family and friends.
'We’ve laughed, we’ve joked, we’ve made friends… For me, it’s been a change in my life because all I was doing was sitting in front of the telly.’
Janet, Stroke Survivor
Find out more about the positive effects STROKESTRA has had on stroke patients, their carers, members of the RPO and NHS Humber Trust workers in our short film on the RPO YouTube Channel:
On Friday 5 February, RPO Resound and the HICSS presented about STROKESTRA to around 100 delegates at the first National Arts in Health Conference at Southbank Centre, hosted by Aesop (Arts Enterprise with a Social Purpose). The presentation included information about the development, structure and evaluation of the programme, including its challenges, successes and plans for the future, and featured first-hand accounts from a patient and carer participant. Attendees of the Conference included clinical commissioners, NHS staff and other arts organisations interested in delivering arts and health programmes around the country. Topics spoken about by these organisations trended on Twitter (#AesopRFH) for seven hours on the day, raising even more awareness about the positive effects arts can have on mental and physical health.