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‘Patients got better faster’: Music therapy provides new hope after strokes.

Music has been used to help with anxiety, depression, chronic pain, developmental disorders, autism and dementia As a board-certified music therapist, Brian Harris knows firsthand the power of music to treat patients and transform care.

He served as the first music therapist at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston, the teaching hospital for Harvard Medical School’s department of physical medicine and rehabilitation. In building the music-therapy program there, Harris worked closely with stroke and brain-injury patients.

“With music therapy, patients got better faster,” Harris said.

But the demand for services from physicians and families looking for more help, especially for patients living at home, was overwhelming, he said, adding, “How to we get from Harvard to the world?”

That’s the idea and mission behind MedRhythms Inc., a neurotherapeutics company based in Portland, Maine. Harris is the company’s chief executive and co-founder.

MedRhythms’ first product, InTandem, uses music to help restore a stronger walking gait in stroke patients with chronic reduced mobility. InTandem is approved as a Class II medical device by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and is available by prescription.

“For patients with difficulty producing rhythmic movements, like those with walking difficulty after stroke, the InTandem system can help reduce that difficulty, both immediately and in the long term,” said Lou Awad, a physical therapist and rehabilitation scientist and the founding director of Boston University’s Neuromotor Recovery Laboratory.

“The cumulative research on InTandem has shown immediate improvements in gait and walking speed after a single session, and long-term improvements in multiple walking outcomes,” Awad said. “InTandem helps patients walk faster while preserving, and sometimes improving, the quality of their gait.”

In a clinical study involving eight leading U.S. rehabilitation hospitals and research institutions, the technology has been shown to produce an improvement in gait speed.

Every 40 seconds, someone in the U.S. has a stroke, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About three-quarters of strokes occur in adults 65 or older, and more than half of older adult stroke survivors have subsequent mobility issues, the CDC says.