Music Therapy offers promising option for stroke patients


(L-R) Prisca Beniot, artist in residence, and Kamal Chémali, MD, perform a piece together.

Sentara Neurologist and musician Kamal Chémali, M.D. knows first-hand the power of music. He has collaborated with Music Therapists to help stroke patients reactivate the language areas of their brains using Music Therapy.

After just a few minutes, one patient who had difficulty saying a simple sentence was able to sing one instead. After a month, the same patient was able to say the sentence without music.

“This is kind of spectacular,” says Chémali. “Some people say it’s a miracle, and indeed it is. It’s the power of music,” he continues.

Neurologic Music Therapy is an evidence-based treatment by a qualified professional using music to achieve a non-musical outcome. For some, it’s used for gait training; for others it’s used to regain language or better manage pain.

With Music Therapy, a board certified Music Therapist relies on music, melody and rhythm, but not a patient’s musical ability, to help that patient.

Chémali, who created a similar music and medicine program at the Cleveland Clinic, founded the Sentara Music and Medicine Center in Norfolk, Virginia and serves as the center’s medical director.

He is sharing his thoughts and experiences with neurologists all over the world at the 22 annual European Stroke Conference in London, UK May 28-31.

Health care provider uses steinway to help unlock healing power in music.