Objectives: This study describes the effects of active music therapy (AMT) on cognition and behaviour in chronic vascular encephalopathy. Design: A single case study investigated different cognitive and psycho-behavioural changes after AMT. Setting: An adult patient with memory, attention, and verbal fluency deficits associated with Vascular Cognitive Impairment-No Dementia (VCI-ND) was treated. Intervention: A four-months AMT course was based on creative and interactive music playing. Sixteen sessions were conducted simultaneously to the pharmacological therapy. Main outcomes measures: Cognitive performances, mood, interpersonal interactions, and perceived abilities were assessed using standardized neuropsychological and psycho-behavioural measurements. Results: At baseline, the patient reported a tendency to feel tense, nervous, and angry and difficulties in memory and visuospatial performances, frequently accompanied by attention drops. The social network was a habitual component of the patient's life, but not a source of sharing of personal experiences, safety or comfort. Neuropsychological tests showed deficits in object and figure naming, verbal fluency, short and long-term verbal memory, short-term spatial memory, selective attention, and visuomotor coordination. After AMT, the cognitive profile significantly improved in attention, visuomotor coordination, and verbal and spatial memory. Such positive changes were confirmed at the three-months follow-up. An increase of the interpersonal interactions and consistent reduction of anxiety were also observed. Conclusions: In selected patients with VCI-ND, a well-structured AMT intervention added to standard therapy may contribute in determining a stable improvement of cognitive and psycho-behavioural aspects. Controlled studies are needed to confirm these promising results. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.
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