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Press release Published on 3.5.2022, 16:51

New research on health-promoting effects of music starting in Turku


Long-time research on the effects of music in neurological rehabilitation has been performed in Turku University Hospital by the team of professor Seppo Soinila. New reasearch is being initiated focusing on feasibility and effectiveness of concerts mediated by virtual reality glasses for patients recovering after acute stroke, those carrying out stroke rehabilitation or those suffering from Alzheimer´s disease.

Turku-based Kaskenmäki Home Concerts, founded and operated by Pauli Kari and Maria Männikkö, has developed and tested virtual glass technology for transmitting concerts on both domestic and international occasions. An inspiration for this development was the severe alpine accident of Mr. Kari and his recovery process several years ago. The system is subject to continuous development, and the current project links it with neurological research. 

Pauli Kari, Suvi Innilä ja Seppo Soinila.

Pauli Kari, Suvi Innilä and Seppo Soinila. Photo: Mikael Soininen.

- Our virtual glasses have been tested by numerous patients admitted to hospital or staying at home. In the United States we had a chance to encourage paralyzed pediatric patients to try the glasses. The immediate joy of music was apparent, and to witness it was an experience with all one´s heart, reports Pauli Kari. 

- One rehabilitating patient began to imitate piano playing, while listening and watching a musical performance through virtual glasses, although he was supposed to be totally unable to do so due to his medical condition. Music revived in his mind the time of childhood, when he did play the piano, assumes Mr. Kari.

Naantali Music Festival offers a concert to be transmitted into hospital and care home 

The concert on June 17 in Naantali Church themed Light and Shadows will be recorded by virtual technology to make it available for hospitalized patients and persons living in care homes, the service extending until the end of the year. User experience will be systematically collected and feasibility of the method will be evaluated as development of nursing practice in each participating unit, and reported to the medical community as part of research program in Seppo Soinila´s music medicine team.  

Naantali Music Festival will also arrange a public seminar on health-promoting effects of music during the entire life span, from cradle to seniority. The seminar Music maintains your health presents in laymens´ terms the latest scientific research on the impact of music in social maturation of children, coping of adults with various forms of stress, and in relief and rehabilitation of age-related health problems. 

The lecturers include professors Minna Huotilainen, Teppo Särkämö and Seppo Soinila. Dr. Huotilainen is Professor of Education at University of Helsinki, and she has investigated the effects of music in children´s development from the fetal period until school age. Dr. Särkämö is Associate Professor of Neuropsychology at University of Helsinki. His pioneering research has revealed e.g. significant positive effects of singing in cognitive capability of aged persons and those suffering from memory disease. Dr. Soinila is Emeritus Professor of Neurology at Turku University. He has performed research on the efficacy of music in rehabilitation of stroke patients and lectured on the effects of music on stress for over 20 years.  

The seminar is free and will take place on Friday June 17 at 13-15 in Kristoffer Hall, Naantali (Address: Opintie 2). 

- It is with great pleasure we participate in this collaboration, which aims at wider realization and utilization of the power of music. Making a realistic concert experience possible in hospital or care home will increase the accessibility of the music festival, states Suvi Innilä, Executive Director of Naantali Music Festival. 

Medical research has verified the therapeutic power of music 

Listening to music is known to activate human brain extensively. In addition to pure auditory experience, centers generating feelings and regulating motor functions and cognition including memory are excited. The brain reward system (center for pleasure) is stimulated,  leading to improved mood and relief of depression caused by illness. In healthy individuals, music has been shown to diminish harmful changes of stress condition in cardiovascular and endocrine systems and in regulation of vigilance. 

Finnish scientists have performed pioneering research, showing that music improves children´s linguistic learning, and that daily listening of favorite music enhances the recovery of language deficits after stroke. Choir singing was shown to improve not only mental but also physical well-being. Increasing evidence is accumulating to suggest that regular musical activities decrease the risk of memory disease at older age.

The goal of the research is a novel cultural service as part of clinical routine

The project being initiated enables persons, who are unable to attend a concert due to the limitations caused by their disease, to enjoy it through virtual glasses. The research coupled to the project evaluates the potential of virtual reality as a regular, realistic cultural experience, which supplements conventional therapies.

The target groups include patients admitted to neurological ward in Turku University Hospital after acute stroke, patients subject to stroke rehabilitation, and persons with memory disease living in care homes operated by Naantali Aurinkosäätiö Foundation. Information will be collected using questionnaires on practical usability, subjective experience and possible limitations or adverse effects. The staff will be interviewed for their observations on the impact of music-related rehabilitation on the burden of nursing. The results form the basis for defining a large-scale scientific study protocol and for developing cultural service package pertinent to the needs of individuals and care units. 

No previous studies have been published on therapeutic efficacy of virtual glasses in the target groups described above. Based on previous research it can be postulated that listening experience through virtual glasses combined with real-time visual environment produces a more intense experience than mere auditory recording. 

- We aim at critically obtained evidence that would justify implementation of music-listening as a safe, non-pharmacological treatment method in routine use to amplify conventional treatments. This would relieve the burden caused by age-related loss of functionality for the individiual, his/her family and the society, concludes Dr. Soinila.


Text: Suvi Innilä

Photo: Mikael Soininen