Lead author Dr. Ercole Vellone, assistant professor in nursing science at the School of Nursing, University Tor Vergata in Rome, said the study involved 192 stroke survivors -- average age 70 -- who were asked whether they liked art, music, painting and theater. Quality of life was compared for 105 patients interested in art and 87 patients not interested in art.
The researchers found patients interested in art had better general health, found it easier to walk and had more energy after the stroke.
They were also happier, less anxious or depressed, felt calmer, had better memory and were superior communicators, Vellone said.
"Stroke survivors who saw art as an integrated part of their former lifestyle, by expressing appreciation towards music, painting and theatre, showed better recovery skills than those who did not," Vellone said in a statement. "In our study the 'art' group of patients showed a comparable clinical picture to the 'no art' group. This is important because it means that patients belonging to the 'art' group had a better quality of life independently from the gravity of stroke. The results suggest that art may make long-term changes to the brain which help it recover when things go wrong."
The findings were presented at the 12th annual spring meeting on cardiovascular nursing in Copenhagen, Denmark.