Art Appreciation Boosts Stroke Recovery Physically And Psychologically

February 11, 2015

By: Anna Agoncillo

Image Credits: Dustin Gaffke via Flickr
Art therapy that fosters creativity can help several of mental and physical conditions such as anxiety, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), cancer, and stroke. Truly, expressive art benefits people with serious disorders. 

Art therapy has been proven to be successful in ways that are different from the traditional therapies. 

Three years ago, a study found that stroke survivors who enjoyed painting, music, and theater had better recovery than patients who did not. 

Researchers from the University Tor Vergata School of Nursing in Rome asked 192 stroke survivors whether they did or did not like art. It turns out that only 87 people reported no appreciation at all. Then, the researchers compared the quality of life of the two groups. Findings suggest that stroke survivors who appreciate art had more energy, improved mobility, less anxiety and depression, better communication skills, and improved memory. 

Dr. Ercole Vellone, the study's lead author, stated that stroke survivors who saw art as an integrated part of their former lifestyle by expressing appreciation towards music, painting, and theater showed better recovery skills than those who did not. Thus, it is the long-term changes in the brain that aided the recovery. 

Introducing art to patients post-stroke may also help by positively boosting the mood and releasing a chemical called dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that controls the brain's reward and pleasure centers. Thus, it can improve one's quality of life. 

With these knowledge that art can stimulate physical and psychological benefits, I've narrated my experience while painting a flower canvas by Paintastic Art Craft (selling for only S$3.43 with the easel and materials included).

Since Valentine's Day is fast approaching, they are offering kits with affordable prices and weekly special offers. Even though the mini kit can be finished in half an hour, I divided the work in 5 days to see if its psychological effects is stable across time. 

Day 1: As I saw the packaging, the instructions were laid out in English and Chinese. The materials were adequate and of quality. The mini kit even included an easel for support. I soon began and stopped 1/4 through. I had an increased feeling of happiness and accomplishment since it requires intricate detailing.

Day 2: I started the day with a cheerful disposition that I can finish more than 2 numbers. And, I did. This painting kit once molded my precision, carefulness, and patience.

Day 3: This day proved that everything gets easier in time. I've accomplished 3 numbers and that made me happy.

Day 4: I had more work done today that ever. I'm approaching the end. But, I got dizzy nearing the end so I put it on hold. Once again, precision and patience increased. Also, it is important to listen to your body and know when to stop.

Day 5: This is the day I've been waiting for since I get to see the results. And, it was beautiful. I showed the pictures to my friends---they agreed. I am finally done but I polished some edges and coated the whole painting for the second time. Truly, a feeling of fulfillment and happiness were brought by this simple craft.

Here is a short video summary of my fantastic painting journey:

Click here to read the previous post: How To Survive A Long Distance Relationship 

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