Singing Speech Therapists [03-08-10]

Filed under: Industry Updates — Editor @ 9:13 am

Stroke patients who’ve lost their speech can be taught to speak again – by singing, reports The Wall Street Journal.  Strokes can damage parts of the brain’s left hemisphere that enable us to speak.  But neurologists at Harvard found a way to rewire stroke victims’ brains by teaching them to sing what they want to say.  Singing engages the brain’s right hemisphere instead of the left. 

Employing a technique called melodic intonation therapy, the research team trained nonspeaking patients to put their words to rhythms and melodies, while monitoring their brain activity through an imaging device.  In a matter of minutes, one patient who for years had only been able to grunt was able to say in a singsong voice, “I am thirsty.”  Over several months, the patients learn to convert their singsong talking into normal speech.  The therapy has the potential to help the estimated 60,000 patients in the U.S, left speechless by a stroke every year.

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