Creative art therapy to enhance rehabilitation for stroke patients: a randomized controlled trial.

The objective of this study was to examine the efficacy of creative art therapy plus conventional physical therapy, compared with physical therapy only, in increasing cognitive ability, physical functions, psychological status and quality of life of stroke patients. This was achieved through and RCT in an in-patient setting involving 118 stroke patients over the age of 50 with good verbal communication. All participants received conventional physical therapy five days per week. An intervention group received additional creative art therapy, twice a week for four weeks, in a rehabilitation ward. Cognitive function, anxiety and depression, physical performance and quality of life were measured with the Abbreviated Mental Test, the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, the modified Barthel Index scale and the pictorial Thai Quality of Life questionnaire, respectively. Mean differences for the intervention group were significantly greater than the control group for depression (-4.5, 95% CI -6.5, -2.5, p< 0.001), physical functions (1.2, 95% CI 0.1, 2.3, p= 0.043) and quality of life (8.9, 95% CI 3.8, 13.8, p< 0.001).Compared with baseline measures, both groups experienced improved cognition, physical functions and quality of life and reduced anxiety and depression. Eighty-five percent of patients were satisfied with the creative art therapy and most reported improved concentration (68.5%), emotion (79.6%), self-confidence (72.2%) and motivation (74.1%).

Creative art therapy combined with conventional physical therapy can significantly decrease depression, improve physical functions and increase quality of life compared with physical therapy alone.