STROKESTRA is a pioneering arts and health programme that harnesses the power of group creative music-making alongside professional musicians and clinical staff to drive patient-led recovery in stroke patients and their carers.

The programme was developed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) in partnership with Hull Integrated Community Stroke Service (part of Humber NHS Foundation Trust) and utilises a range of specially adapted musical techniques to address the complex needs of stroke survivors and their carers. From conducting to singing, instrumental work and improvising, participants take part in a range of inspiring music-making activities with intrinsic benefits for their rehabilitation work. Within the group, activities and instruments are tailored to meet patients’ individual goals, from physical rehabilitation work involving functional movement, grasp and mobility to social integration supporting confidence-building, communication and increased self-esteem. In this way, the programme supports patients and their carers to work towards rehabilitation holistically, setting and meeting goals that matter to them, all whilst becoming part of a fun, supportive musical ensemble.

Programme pilot and results

Following an intensive research and development phase, the programme was piloted over five-months in summer 2015 with support from Hull Public Health. Results of the evaluation found significant improvements for patients, carers and staff:

  • 91% of patients reported social benefits, such as improved relationships and communication skills.
  • 86% of patients reported relief of disability symptoms, cognitive benefits and emotional improvements, ranging from decreases in epilepsy symptoms, to increased concentration and  renewed sense of self.
  • 71% of patients improved physically, including improved walking, standing, upper arm strength and stamina.
  • 100% of carers reported an improvement in their own personal wellbeing, respite from their role as carer and improved relationships with their patient as a result of participating alongside them.

The future of STROKESTRA

Building on the amazing success of the programme to date, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra is currently seeking funding to begin a three-year programme reaching up to 300 stroke survivors and carers. This long-term programme will focus on progression towards independence and improved quality of life for participants, while integrated training for clinical staff and students will develop skills in the local workforce, and medical research will support further analysis of the programme’s effects on a range of rehabilitation outcomes from immediate impact to long-term recovery.

To support STROKESTRA financially, get in touch with your name and contact details at

“When you have a stroke you think your life is completely over, because you can’t do what you did before. But coming here you found out that you can still do things; we’ve all got problems, but everybody’s got a big smile on their face these days, which they didn’t have before.’’

Janet, stroke survivor and STROKESTRA participant

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