Vertical cross-section of the human cerebellum, showing folding pattern of the cortex, and interior structures (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
My husband Charles had a cerebellar stroke about 4 years ago. He become quite a celebrity in the local hospital. All the neurology students showed up to visit, along with an assortment of doctors, residents, nurses, etc. I guess things were slow that week on the neurology ward and a guy sitting up in bed building Lego models was a big draw.
Charles is not normally the person you’d go to for a conversation. He’s a “Just the facts, ma’am ,” sort of guy. But the medical types all wanted his opinion on the weather, the ball game, his lunch and the model he was building. I’d never seen so much idle chatter in his vicinity. They didn’t care what he talked about, they just wanted him to speak. Then, once someone got him going, they’d all watch him with keen attention, like they were dogs and he was eating a hamburger.
The talking never failed to please. The crowd would get noticeably cheerier after some remarks on the weather. Then they would move on to the next fascinating skill: Could he touch his nose with his finger? The entire crowd would watch as finger was applied to nose. Breath was held. Eyebrows were raised. Heads were shaken in astonishment.
My husband is a bright man. He was also an AAU swimmer who swam his way to Stanford on a scholarship. Talking and touching his nose were not previously thought to be his best act. But somehow, having lost a good portion of his cerebellum, talking and touching his nose became marvels of achievement. People missing what he was missing were not supposed to be doing what he was doing.
Somehow he missed a really terrible accident. Call me biased, but I think a recently published article
hints at why he suffered so few ill effects from his stroke. This article says that listening to music seems to help reorganize the brain after a stoke and repair the damage.
It seems to me that listening to piano music 4 or 5 hours a day must also have a protective effect or else someone near and dear to me would be a basket case today. All those piano lessons and his wife’s practicing must have made him nearly invincible.
Four years later, he is not only fully recovered from the small effects of the stroke, but is functioning better than ever. I attribute it all to the concentrated doses of piano music he receives every day.
Ask your doctor if piano music is right for you.