When Wendy Lyons heard a fellow stroke survivor sing a few lines of the song “Danny Boy” she was amazed.
Since joining the Croydon Stroke Support Group in Melbourne he had never uttered more than a couple of words. “It’s something I came to notice from then – those people who had lost speech after their stroke could still sing,” Wendy says. “It was then I wanted to start a choir for people with aphasia.”
A stroke can affect parts of the brain that lead to problems in communication. Aphasia, as it is known, can cause difficulty in comprehension, in thought and body language but it can also manifest in difficulties talking or speaking clearly. As stroke sometimes only affects one part of the brain people who can’t talk after a stroke can often sing.
“The left hemisphere of the brain affects speech,” Wendy says. “People who have a stroke on that side of the brain are often paralysed on their right side as a result.
“But music is processed by both sides of the brain.”
Stroke a Chord held its first rehearsal in May 2010 after Wendy’s first idea in 2008. The group, open only to people with aphasia and their carers, meets weekly, rehearses with a conductor, and holds performances.
“It really boosts everyone’s confidence,” Wendy says.
“And we have found that people’s speech is actually improving by this regular and structured singing.”
She tells of one group member who had had his stroke before the birth of his grandchildren.
“Until they heard him sing they had never heard his voice,” Wendy says.
Enquiries about the Stroke a Chord choir can be made to Wendy Lyons: firstname.lastname@example.org
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