The effectiveness of piano therapy as a means of upper extremity rehabilitation for cerebral palsy




Newey, Carter
Meiling, James
Bansal, Vishal
Schulze, David
Fraser, Kristina


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Purpose: Music-supported therapy, particularly piano therapy, is an effective form of neurorehabilitation. The process of rehabilitation in piano therapy is largely due to neuroplasticity, which enables the participant to improve motor cortex excitability, cortical connectivity and motor deficits in their paretic hands. Cerebral palsy that affects the upper extremities, particularly the hands and fingers, may see benefits from utilizing a more specific type of therapy: practicing and playing the piano. This comprehensive review of the current literature will summarize all of the pertinent studies that have been published regarding the effectiveness of piano therapy as a means of upper extremity rehabilitation for individuals with cerebral palsy. Methods: A comprehensive review. Results: The authors found (3) studies that fit the inclusion criteria - (2) small-scale clinical trials and (1) case-control study. Conclusions: Piano therapy shows great promise as a therapeutic medium in upper extremity rehabilitation in patients with CP. Although the complexity of CP varied from case to case, a positive association in at least one of the associated outcome measures was noted in each study. Patients showed significant improvements in reductions of finger mean stroke intervals. fMRI assessments showed improvements in endogenous connectivity from primary motor cortex contralateral to the dominant hand and the cerebellum ipsilateral to the same hand. We recommend that continued research regarding benefits of CP and piano therapy with children, adults, and inclusion of mildly to severely symptomatic cases of CP be carried out to make definitive recommendations on its role in rehabilitation.