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 & East Riding Community Stroke Services, 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 service 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
Following the success of the pilot programme, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Hull and East Riding Community Stroke Services delivered a multi-year roll out of the programme, reaching more stroke patients and their families, focusing on progression towards independence and improved quality of life. Integrated training for clinical staff and University of Hull music students developed skills in the local workforce, allowing the continued use of music in clinical care.
"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
STROKESTRA® Hull Non-Clinical Sessions
STROKESTRA® is now being offered as a non-clinical pathway for stroke survivors and their families living in the Hull and East Riding community. Any medically stable stroke survivor 18+ and their family carers are invited to register to take part.
Upcoming Term dates are:
- Thursday 21 September & Friday 22 September
- Thursday 19 October & Friday 20 October
- Thursday 16 November & Friday 17 November
- Wednesday 13, Thursday 14 & Friday 15 December
Participants are invited to attend the morning (10:30-12:30) or afternoon (14:00-16:00) group on each date. Sessions are free, but registration is required.
If you are a stroke survivor in Hull & East Riding and would like more information about the programme, download details here:
If you are a stroke survivor in Hull & East Riding and would like to register to take part, download the registration form here:
If you are a stroke group leader, clinician or social prescribing link worker who would like to refer a stroke survivor, please find further information here:
STROKESTRA® At Home
If you are a stroke survivor not living in the Hull and East Riding area but would like to be involved, please visit our STROKESTRA® At Home page, where you can find a series of activity videos to keep you gently active and engaged from the comfort of your own home.
Developed during the COVID-19 pandemic, these videos formed part of STROKESTRA® Online, which also included live, interactive sessions delivered by Zoom video call. If you would like to be added to the mailing list to be notified of future live, online sessions, please email
STROKESTRA® Research Project
The impacts and mechanisms of STROKESTRA® are currently being assessed through a research study conducted by the University of Hull. Find out more about this research, its progress and outcomes on the Centre for Applied Research in the Arts (CARA) website.
The STROKESTRA® team regularly shares learning and best practice with arts and health colleagues around the UK and abroad. If you would be interested in receiving training or consultation in our work, please email
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:
STROKESTRA® is a registered trade mark of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Limited.