Transforming Communities

Musical Medicine for Brain Injuries

A unique collaboration between musicians, clinicians and academics, led to an 'Innovation Study' in Canterbury this Spring. Working with patients in hospital recovering from brain injury, it showed that high quality interactive live music performances can have great benefits for them.

The work took place on the Harvey Neuro-Rehabilitation Ward in East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust's Kent & Canterbury Hospital, with twice-weekly interactive live music concerts (or "doses") over a six-week period, performed by professional musicians on the Live Music Now scheme. The concerts include Western Classical Jazz, World and Folk music played by some of the top emerging musicians in the Country.

Significantly, patients taking part showed immediate and spontaneous improvements in standardized measures of happiness and wellbeing. The majority of the data collected illustrated positive trends, with improvements in wellbeing, pain, cognition functioning, independent functioning, and mobility. Other benefits included improvements in the perception by patients of the value of self-care, their engagement with other therapies and support for settling new patients into the ward. With great support from (an initially skeptical) nurse and doctor staff, the project also confirmed the feasibility of carrying out a more formal, research-based study.

The project is the first to formally assess the feasibility and prospective success associated with implementing and evaluating a six-week live interactive music intervention on an inpatient neuro-rehabilitation ward. In addition the specific outcome measures, patient cohort and type of music played were unique to this project.

"We intuitively believe in the ability of music to harness the recovery of injured brain and mind. However, hard data doesn't exist to justify resource allocation. During this project, I heard numerous verbal and written expressions of happiness from patients, friends & parents of patients. At the end, that's what matters–providing patients & families with a good experience during their hospital stay". Dr Mohamed Sakel Director/Consultant Neuro-Rehabilitation, East Kent Hospitals

"The project confirmed that it is possible to bring live music to a busy and resource-intensive neuro-rehabilitation ward without significant disruption. Given the positive reactions of patients and staff, the next step is to conduct a research study that both applies more sensitive measures of well-being and determines how often and what type of music should be played." Dr David Wilkinson School of Psychology, University of Kent,

" We are delighted to have worked in partnership on this project and these significant results add to the growing body of evidence and understanding of the way that live music can make a positive difference to peoples' health and wellbeing. We very much look forward to exploring this further, and continuing to contribute to this important area of study. We are in no doubt that the skills and techniques of the excellent musicians taking part in this project, who have been receiving training on the LMN Scheme, are a key factor in this success. " Douglas Noble Strategic Director of Wellbeing at Live Music Now

The Study took place in collaboration between East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust (EKHUFT) and University of Kent's School of Psychology, and Live Music Now, following a long-standing research partnership of Dr Mohamed Sakel (Director/Consultant Neuro-Rehabilitation, EKHUFT) and Dr David Wilkinson (School of Psychology, University of Kent), who have completed several studies together on improving care of neurorehab patients. Two student researchers (Anna Biller and Katie Richards) designed and administered the measurement system of the programme. The positive outcomes from this study have laid the foundations for a broader clinical-academic collaboration involving other UK partner organisations.

Patients' conditions at the hospital range from severe brain injury from trauma, stroke, tumours and MS. The sessions featured live music (jazz, classical, folk and West African) in the Harvey Ward day room every Saturday and Sunday for patients and visitors

This concert series was supported in part by Golsoncott Foundation, Promenaders' Musical Charities and an anonymous donor. Additional support provided in kind by Kent & Canterbury Hospital and the School of Psychology, University of Kent. If you would like to further the aims of music in recovery please visit the LMN website or contact [email protected] / 0207 014 2829.

A previous article about the project can be found here.


Ensembles/Musicians who took part include:

Fontane Liang (solo harp).

Radigun (fiddle, guitar, songs)

Tom Millar (piano)

Hermione Jones (solo cello)

Evropska Violin Duo

Josh Doughty (West African kora)

Maciek Pysz & Alice Zawadski (guitar, songs, violin)

Antara Duo (flute, harp)

Karelia Duo (cello, violin)

Haddo (melodeon,viola, harmonica)

Albany Piano Trio (piano, violin, cello)


Further information:

Lis Ssenjovu, Director of Operations, Live Music Now

Tel: 020 7014 2829 / 07985 281549

E: [email protected]

Notes to Editors:

Live Music Now

Live Music Now (LMN), together with Live Music Now Scotland (LMNS), is a UK-wide music outreach and musicians' development scheme, established by Yehudi Menuhin in 1977, under Founder-Chairman Ian Stoutzker, CBE. It is inspired by the vision that by embracing the power of music to transform lives, musicians play a central part in a healthy society. LMN aims to bring live music of the highest quality to those for whom access to its benefits is normally restricted, focusing on Wellbeing (particularly older people, including those living with dementia) and Special Educational Needs (particularly children) and to support the professional development of musicians at the outset of their careers, ensuring the highest quality of delivery through a rigorous selection and training process. The organisation works with over 300 musicians each year, reaching more than 100,000 people through participatory performances and workshops across the UK.


Facebook: LiveMusicNow


Telephone: Lis Ssenjovu 020 7014 2829/07985 281549

Email: [email protected]

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