The role art and music can play in the recovery from a stroke or severe brain injury is the subject of a new short film shot in Halifax.

Strategies of Hope, by Halifax filmmaker Ariella Pahlke, features patients and their families during treatment at the Nova Scotia Rehabilitation Centre. 

Matt French

Matt French (left) is part of the Nova Scotia Rehab Centre’s Acquired Brain Injury Program. His mother Carol (right) is helping him with his recovery. (Jennifer Henderson/CBC)

Matt French, 23, and his mother Carol French are featured in the documentary. 

Nearly two years ago, an accident in British Columbia put French into a coma. He was then transferred to the Nova Scotia Rehabilitation Centre. 

“It’s all hard … everything you do, for sure,” he said.

Carol French said her son has come a long way. 

“His brain has to relearn or rewire how to see, how to speak, how to eat, how to sit. Because of Matt’s type of injury, just about every aspect that you can think of have been affected. So he has come leaps and bounds and he’s still recovering,” she said.

Carol French said a big part of her son’s therapy is playing music. She said it helped him to get his voice and his memory back.

“Music is life. If you’re a musician, you’re always a musician. I guess I’d like to say that because you’ve had an acquired brain injury doesn’t mean you used to be a guitarist. Matt is a guitarist and always will be, that’s who he is, that’s part of him,” she said.

“He thinks like a musician and if you tap in to the part of who you are, that can really help you to get back to your new normal and get back to your life.”  

Coleen Lawlor, a recreation therapist at the centre, said those involved in the film wanted to share their rehabilitation progress.

“To see their journey and their progress was something that they wanted to share — that they felt was like ‘I’m walking now can you shoot me walking?’”

There’s a free screening of the film Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in the Bethune Ballroom of the Victoria General Hospital on South Park Street.