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Stroke Research and Treatment
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 159105, 5 pages
Clinical Study

Playing Piano Can Improve Upper Extremity Function after Stroke: Case Studies

1School of Physical and Occupational Therapy, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada H3A OG4
2Feil and Oberfeld Research Centre, Jewish Rehabilitation Hospital, Research Site of the Montreal Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Rehabilitation (CRIR), 3205 Place Alton-Goldbloom, Laval, QC, Canada H7V 1R2

Received 5 December 2012; Accepted 23 January 2013

Academic Editor: Majaz Moonis

Copyright © 2013 Myriam Villeneuve and Anouk Lamontagne. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Music-supported therapy (MST) is an innovative approach that was shown to improve manual dexterity in acute stroke survivors. The feasibility of such intervention in chronic stroke survivors and its longer-term benefits, however, remain unknown. The objective of this pilot study was to estimate the short- and long-term effects of a 3-week piano training program on upper extremity function in persons with chronic stroke. A multiple pre-post sequential design was used, with measurements taken at baseline (week0, week3), prior to (week6) and after the intervention (week9), and at 3-week follow-up (week12). Three persons with stroke participated in the 3-week piano training program that combined structured piano lessons to home practice program. The songs, played on an electronic keyboard, involved all 5 digits of the affected hand and were displayed using a user-friendly MIDI program. After intervention, all the three participants showed improvements in their fine (nine hole peg test) and gross (box and block test) manual dexterity, as well as in the functional use of the upper extremity (Jebsen hand function test). Improvements were maintained at follow-up. These preliminary results support the feasibility of using an MST approach that combines structured lessons to home practice to improve upper extremity function in chronic stroke.