Care Blog

STROKESTRA: Stroke therapy by the Royal Orchestra

STROKESTRA is a pilot project which brings stroke patients, carers and therapists from across the Hull and East Yorkshire region together to form an orchestra. The pilot project comes as a result of a partnership formed between the world-renowned Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) and Hull Integrated Community Stroke Service (HICSS), part of the Humber NHS Foundation Trust.

The project has gained significant attention after representatives of the RPO and HICSS revealed striking findings from the STROKESTRA pilot at a recent (October 2016) breakfast event for healthcare industry professionals and media. We'll look at these findings once we know a little more about the project. Read on...


STROKESTRA was born out the RPO's award-winning Community and Education programme, RPO Resound. The RPO Resound programme aims to enhance lives through the power of music by delivering orchestral outreach projects across the UK. STROKESTRA is one of these community projects and was created by the RPO to support their residency at Hull City Hall.

The STROKESTRA project began with an in-depth research and development phase and in mid-2015, it was piloted in a six-month scheme. This pilot period tested and refined the effectiveness of group creative music making to support recovery in stroke patients.  A total of 40 patients, therapists, and carers got involved in bi-weekly practice sessions in which they worked with professional musicians from the RPO and specially trained HICSS staff to listen to, conduct, compose and perform music.

The 6-month pilot period culminated in a public performance by the newly formed ‘stroke orchestra’, better known as STROKESTRA. The performance took place at Hull City Hall and stroke patients, carers, therapists and RPO musicians came together to perform original pieces of music in a showcase of their creative and rehabilitative success.

Video Insight (12:40)

The RPO created a video explainer of the project which shares the real-life stories of stroke patients and therapists, and how the STROKESTRA project has benefited them.

The striking impact of this pilot project

At a breakfast event for healthcare industry professionals and the media in October, representatives of the Orchestra and HICSS set out the striking findings of the STROKESTRA pilot. The key successes are:

  • 86% reported relief of disability symptoms and improvement in quality of life
  • 91% reported social benefits including improved relationships and communication skills
  • 86% found cognitive benefits such as increased concentration and memory
  • 86% improved emotionally, citing increased confidence, morale and sense of self
  • 71% improved in their physical health and ability
  • 100% of carers reported an improvement in well-being, respite from their role as carer, and improved relationships with their patient

Take a look at all the findings in the RPO's programme report

Spreading the success to other communities

The RPO and HICSS have launched a STROKESTRA Programme Guide. It is hoped that the guide will inspire others to create similar outcomes in more communities in time. View here.

The STROKESTRA partnership

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

In 1946, Sir Thomas Beecham embarked on a mission to create a world-class ensemble from the finest musicians in the country. Beecham envisioned an orchestra that would bring the greatest music to audiences across the world, and today, the orchestra has a reputation worldwide for making music of the highest quality. The Orchestra is London-based and performs regularly at the capital's main public halls as well as undertaking a busy schedule of UK concerts, international tours, CD, film and television recordings, and community and education work.

STROKESTRA is one of the latest initiatives within the aforementioned RPOʼs award-winning community and education programme, RPO Resound. The programme underpins the RPOʼs extensive schedule of UK regional performances and fulfills the orchestra's aim to improve lives through the power of music.

Visit the RPO Resound website

Hull Integrated Community Stroke Service

Hull Integrated Community Stroke Service (HICSS) is funded by the Hull Clinical Commissioning Group and provides a dedicated health and social care team that supports stroke survivors in Hull and East Yorkshire.  As part of the Humber NHS Trust, HICSS uses a team of occupational, physical and speech therapists, as well as nurses and clinical psychologists, to provide support for stroke survivors throughout their recovery. This includes inpatient care, discharge and post-discharge support, and long-term community rehabilitation.

Visit the HICSS website

Let me know your thoughts on this fantastic project in the comments section below...

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