Due to travel restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, no face-to-face STROKESTRA® dissemination was possible in 2020 or 2021. To make up for lost time, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra team travelled to Orlando, Florida, in September 2022 to work with Dr Phillips Center and their healthcare partner AdventHealth on a two-day learning exchange featuring a STROKESTRA® demonstration with local patients and public dissemination event.

The event brought together the specially trained STROKESTRA® team with staff from AdventHealth, Orlando’s largest healthcare provider, including music therapists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists and administrators for two days of knowledge sharing and practice development. An initial session introduced STROKESTRA®, its history and concept to AdventHealth clinicians, demonstrating the ethos, activities and potential outcomes of the programme. Staff were supported to take part in practical activities as well as ask questions about the logistical and clinical aspects of the programme.

Four local stroke patients and one spouse then joined the teams for a practical STROKESTRA® session in the beautiful Steinmetz Hall, during which they were supported to try out instruments, conduct musicians, sing and compose a new piece of music inspired by the sunny Florida climate. A debrief analysing the session and unpicking the feedback and actions of participants followed with the RPO and AdventHealth teams.

A second brainstorming session between the professionals the following morning allowed the team to answer further questions about the programme, and its running in the UK. This session also allowed AdventHealth music therapists to demonstrate their own practice, and led to a discussion about the differences between music therapy and STROKESTRA®, and the roles of both in stroke recovery.

The local stroke participants then re-joined the teams for a final workshop/rehearsal, refining the music created the day before and adding new elements. An invited audience including participants’ families, music therapists, clinicians, researchers, and arts and health administrators then joined the group for a public event outlining the STROKESTRA® programme, listening to the STROKESTRA® Orlando performance, and hearing about the impacts of the programme both from local participants and evidence collected during delivery in the UK.