The Heartbeat drumming program for stroke

Ms Sheila Smith1

1Charles Sturt University, Albury, Australia

Aim: Heartbeat is a rehabilitation drumming program for clients with chronic neurological impairments, including individuals who have had a stroke. Over six weeks, the clients learn to play the drums guided by the music teacher and students of Wangaratta West Primary School. The aim of this study was to identify themes in how and why stroke clients found the Heartbeat program motivating.

Method: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with five stroke clients who had self-identified that they were motivated by their Heartbeat drumming program experience. The participants were asked (a) what motivation means to them, (b) what they found motivating about participating in the program, and (c) what about themselves they believe made them motivated by the program.

Results: Despite the varied descriptions of what motivation meant, there was significant overlap in participants’ definitions of motivation. Factors that contributed to participants’ motivation fell into six categories: the kids’ approach, perceived comparison to others, sense of community, fun and enjoyment, personal values, and personality traits.

Significance of the findings to allied health: This study highlights the value of group rehabilitation settings for some clients, where through interpersonal comparison and social interaction, clients’ drive to participate can be increased. It also shows that the attitude of the person teaching a new skill (in this instance the students) can impact on a client’s motivation. Factors intrinsic to the individual matter too, such as their personality and their personal values. Understanding the elements that make Heartbeat motivating from the client’s perspective may assist in increasing motivation in other stroke rehabilitation contexts.