Guitar lessons for restoring hand functions

Guitar exercises are viable augmentative treatments for those with hand impairments brought about by a chronic stroke. This was the conclusion reached by the researchers of GTARA (Grip/Grasp Training with Active Range of Motion Activities Using Guitar): Guitar Lessons for Restoring Hand Function Among Patients With Unilateral Hand Impairment From Chronic Stroke (GTARA).

(From left) Agana and Morabe. Photo by Jefferson Villacruz, UPDIO

“Ang pag-aaral na ito ay naglalayong subukan ang paggamit ng gitarang klasikal—isang instrumentong pangmusika na madali at murang mabibili sa pamilihan, gayundin ay madalas na nakikita sa mga komunidad—bilang karagdagang pamamaraan ng rehabilitasyon sa pagpapanumbalik ng paggana ng kamay ng mga pasyenteng may unilateral hand impairment dulot ng chronic stroke,” Nathan Neil V. Manimtim, PhD said.

Manimtim is the project leader and co-investigator of GTARA. He is the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs of UP Diliman (UPD) College of Music (CMu).

The other members of the GTARA team are Dr. Sharon D. Ignacio and Dr. Kreza Geovien G. Ligaya of the UP-Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH) Department of Rehabilitation Medicine (DRM), Dr. Manuel Peter Paul C. Jorge II of the Department of Physiology of the UP Manila College of Medicine, and Daniel Joseph S. Morabe, one of Manimtim’s students. Ignacio, who is also the DRM chair, was the principal investigator and Manimtim, Ligaya, Jorge, and Morabe were co-investigators.

(From left) Incoy and Morabe. Photo by Jefferson Villacruz, UPDIO

Manimtim explained, “[Ang] GTARAay isang pag-aaral na ipinatupad ng CMu at UP-PGH DRM, at pinondohan ng Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD), Department of Science and Technology (DOST).”

“Th[e] specific guitar lesson created and performed in this study as used by the 17 intervention group participants has brought improvement in hand function as seen in those who underwent traditional occupational therapy. Hence, the use of guitar exercises as an augmentative treatment was viable in the circumstances of this study,” the GTARA team said.

The project’s positive outcome prompted the team to recommend that the GTARA guitar lesson be used in therapy sessions with patients.

The team said, “The specific guitar lesson used in this study, with the supervision of the guitar instructors who were part of this study, could be used by chronic stroke patients with unilateral hand impairment. This may be most helpful in areas with limited access to rehabilitation facilities and occupational therapy services. This may also be used as a continuing activity of chronic stroke patients at home to help improve hand function.”

(From left) Manimtim, Banal, Mongas, Espiritu, Los Baños, and Morabe. Photo by Jefferson Villacruz, UPDIO

GTARA researchers reported, “Hand function is an important ability that allows healthy individuals to perform activities of daily living (ADLs), which are essential to managing their basic physical daily needs. The basic ADLs are classified into ambulating, feeding, dressing, personal hygiene, continence, and toileting.”

“Sustained rehabilitation therapy is a key component in the effective management of the disability caused by stroke,” stated in the report.

The team said, “Conventional physical and occupational therapies must be instituted early on in the disease and sustained for several months or years in order to regain functional hand capacity.”

Now that there is an identified augmentative method which can provide constant repetitive therapy sessions and relatively more accessible, patients can afford prolonged treatments.

Patients who used the guitar exercises had improvements in hand functions.

Seven of the 17 GTARA participants demonstrated the improvements in their hand movements via a recital at the Minihall of the CMu. These were Aldon Agana, Shiela Banal, Rolly Espiritu, Liza Incoy, Renato Los Baños, Ranie Avila Mongas, and Lovely Jade Mosot.

GTARA Phase 2 has been selected for priority funding by the DOST-PCHRD in its recently concluded 2023 Call for Proposals for 2025 Funding. The second phase aims to develop and test a training manual on the use of the guitar exercises in the practice of rehabilitation medicine.

(From left) Mosot and Morabe. Photo by Jefferson Villacruz, UPDIO