STROKESTRA® is a pioneering stroke rehabilitation programme that harnesses the power of group creative music-making alongside professional musicians and clinicians to drive patient-led recovery in stroke patients and their carers.
The programme was developed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) in partnership with Hull Integrated Community Stroke Service, part of City Health Care Partnership, and utilises a range of specially adapted musical techniques to address the complex needs of stroke survivors and their carers. From physical rehabilitation work involving functional movement, grasp and mobility to social integration supporting confidence-building, communication and renewed sense of self, the programme supports patients and their carers to work towards rehabilitation holistically, setting and meeting goals that matter to them.
"It was incredibly moving to see the stroke patients and RPO members work together; it brought me to tears. This project pioneers the use of music to benefit health and wellbeing and today I’ve been fortunate to see first-hand how patients can benefit from this type of innovative rehabilitation."
Sam Barlow, Hull Clinical Commissioning Group
Programme pilot and results
Beginning with an intensive research and development phase, the programme was piloted in a five-month programme in summer 2015 with support from Hull Public Health. Results of the evaluation found significant improvements for patients, carers and staff:
- 86% reported relief of disability symptoms citing improved sleeping, reduced anxiety, fewer dizzy spells and reduced epilepsy symptoms
- 91% reported social benefits such as improved relationships and communication skills
- 86% found cognitive benefits, including increased concentration, attention and memory
- 86% improved emotionally, citing increased confidence, morale and sense of self
- 71% improved physically, including walking, standing, upper arm strength and stamina
- 100% of carers reported an improvement in wellbeing, respite from their role as carer and improved relationships with their patient as a result of participating alongside them
“When you have a stroke you think your life is completely over, because you can’t do what you did before. But coming here you found out that you can still do things; we’ve all got problems, but everybody’s got a big smile on their face these days, which they didn’t have before.’’
Janet, stroke survivor and STROKESTRA® participant
The future of STROKESTRA®
Following the excellent success of the pilot programme, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Hull & East Riding Community Stroke Service are currently rolling out a three-year programme reaching up to 300 stroke survivors and carers. This long-term programme will focus on progression towards independence and improved quality of life for participants, while integrated training for clinical staff and students will develop skills in the local workforce, ensuring sustainability beyond the immediate delivery period. Medical research carried out alongside the programme will support further analysis of the programme’s effects on a range of rehabilitation outcomes from immediate impact to long-term recovery.
"When you’re training it’s about quality of life – the medics do the sustaining life and we do the quality of life stuff – and then you get out into the real world and it’s about resources and project management and making sure everyone’s safe. But I was sat there today just thinking, ‘this is what we trained for’. This is quality of life in a way that we couldn’t have done it. And for me it’s been therapeutic as a health professional to be doing what I actually set out to do in the beginning."
Maisie, Occupational Therapist
Awards and commendations
- Winner: Working in Partnership with other Agencies, Humber NHS Staff Awards (December 2015)
- Selected: Presenter at the AESOP National Arts in Health Conference (February 2016)
- Shortlisted: Team of the Year, Nursing Times Awards (June 2016; final decision announced October 2016)
- Runner up: Leadership for Improvement Award, Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire Health Expo (July 2016)
- Shortlisted: Innovation and Progress Award, Humber NHS Staff Awards (December 2015)
- Commendation: Rank Foundation Documentary Gong, Hull Film Awards (December 2015)
With gratitude for ongoing support provided by:
The Austin & Hope Pilkington Trust, Hull & East Riding Charitable Trust, The Kirby Laing Foundation, The Rayne Foundation.
STROKESTRA® is a registered trade mark of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Limited.