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Lampe, Renée; Thienel, Anna; Mitternacht, Jürgen; Blumenstein, Tobias; Turova, Varvara; Alves-Pinto, Ana (2015): Piano training in youths with hand motor impairments after damage to the developing brain. In: Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, Vol. 11: pp. 1929-1938
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Abstract

Damage to the developing brain may lead to impairment of the hand motor function and negatively impact on patients' quality of life. Development of manual dexterity and finger and hand motor function may be promoted by learning to play the piano. The latter brings together music with the intensive training of hand coordination and fine finger mobility. We investigated if learning to play the piano helped to improve hand motor skills in 18 youths with hand motor disorders resulting from damage during early brain development. Participants trained 35-40 minutes twice a week for 18 months with a professional piano teacher. With the use of a Musical Instrument Digital Interface piano, the uniformity of finger strokes could be objectively assessed from the timing of keystrokes. The analysis showed a significant improvement in the uniformity of keystrokes during the training. Furthermore, the youths showed strong motivation and engagement during the study. This is nevertheless an open study, and further studies remain needed to exclude effects of growth and concomitant therapies on the improvements observed and clarify which patients will more likely benefit from learning to play the piano.