Background Rehabilitative stroke interventions based on principles of multimodal stimulation have the potential to profoundly affect neuroplastic processes beyond the sub-acute phase. In order to identify important core mechanisms, there is a need to explore how interventions that combine physical, social, sensory, and cognitively challenging activities are perceived and experienced by the participants. This qualitative study, based on an interpretive interactionist perspective, explored the experiences of stroke survivors who participated in a group-based multimodal rehabilitation program based on rhythm and music. Methods and findings Within four weeks after completion of the multimodal rehabilitation program, face-to-face semi-structured interviews were conducted on a single occasion with 15 purposively selected individuals (mean age 65, 8 men, 7 women). The interview duration was between 13 and 44 minutes. Qualitative content analysis with an inductive approach was used to analyze data. Three categories were identified, each containing several sub-categories: To be intellectually challenged (energy-consuming activity and coordinating multiple input and output), Perceived therapeutic benefits (motor skills, cognitive skills, emotional and psychological responses), and Pros and cons with social integration (fellowship, competing with others, and instructor characteristics). From these categories, an overall theme was derived: The multifaceted layers of multimodal stimulation. Enjoying music, being part of a group with peers, a skilled instructor, and being able to manage the challenging movements, were related to positive experiences. In contrast, negative experiences were associated with not being able to perform the exercises, and with group members who dominated the conversational space. Conclusion This study shows that access to a multimodal rehabilitation program with rhythm and music as operating ingredients may contribute to positive experiences for many individuals in a late phase after stroke in terms of motor, cognitive, as well as emotional enhancements. Important components were the music, the social interaction, the challenging exercises, and the skilled instructor.
Pohl, P., Carlsson, G., Käll, L. B., Nilsson, M., & Blomstrand, C. (2018). Experiences from a multimodal rhythm and music-based rehabilitation program in late phase of stroke recovery – A qualitative study. PLoS ONE, 13(9). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0204215