Music Stimulation for Those With Brain Injury

Jun 03, 2014
Tagged with: Music Stimulation for Those With Brain Injury

Since man’s early days, it has been used to relate history, to tell stories, calm fears and call others to action. Research finds that music can also be used as a therapy for a number of different conditions, such as brain injury from accidents or stroke. We can also use music therapy to help those with traumatic brain injury to achieve full function and increase a sense of wellbeing. 

Understanding Music Therapy

Music therapy is the use of music in specific ways to aid in the recovery of patients that may have a variety of deficits caused by illness, injury or congenital problems. Music therapy is research-based and designed to produce measurable outcomes. The therapist uses the sounds, patterns, rhythms and repetitions of music to address the patient’s physical, emotional, cognitive and social needs. Therapists have a bachelor’s or higher degree in a specialized music therapy program that includes a number of hours of clinical experience, certification and sometimes licensing from the state.

History of Music Therapy

The concept of using music as a therapy can be found in writings from the 1700s. In the 1800s, the medical use of music to aid in recovery began to be tested in an institutional setting. In the 20th century, musicians came to veteran’s hospitals to help soothe the injured soldiers from World War I and II. The remarkable benefits of music for both physical and emotional recovery were noted, and an effort to provide a systematic form of therapy using music was begun.

How Music Aids Recovery

The therapeutic effect of music has been known for hundreds of years. In the  Conditions That Can Be Helped By Music Therapy Music therapy can assist in re-training the brain to function differently to produce a number of results.

· Re-training speech and motor function after brain injury from stroke

· Memory exercises for those with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia

· Relaxation and distraction to reduce pain

· Calm children to manage asthma symptoms more effectively

· Aid in sleep patterns and weight gain for premature infants

· Help Parkinson’s patients with motor function

· Provide memory stimulation, stabilize emotions and increase social confidence in those with traumatic brain injury

Music As Language

Music can be useful as therapy because it constitutes another type of “language” that the brain can learn and recognize easily. Researchers using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) equipment find that the human brain processes music much like ordinary language. However, while the brain analyzes language in greater detail, noting syntax, structure and meaning, it processes music on a much more elementary level. The precision of language is lost, but much of the emotional impact is retained. This information shows how music can be used to exercise the brain after injury without requiring the specific information conveyed by language.

Music Exercises

Music therapy can be used a wide variety of ways to address specific motor problems, cognitive issues or emotional problems:

· Rhythm exercises that include whole body involvement can aid in improving gait in patients who have been brain injuries from stroke or accidents.

· Singing exercises can improve speech memory, word formation, and tonal modulation.

· Playing instruments along with the music can help patients with motor function, memory, social integration and emotional regulation

· Rhythmic music exercises can lower blood pressure, improve mood, and increase well-being.

· Group music activities can help calm social anxiety and improve self-image.

If you would like to learn more about music therapy and its use as a treatment for brain injury patients, sign up for TryMunity, an online support network that provides a wealth of information for patients and their families.

Author: Shelly Duell

  • bobl07

    Thank you for this wonderful suggestion. My grandmother is going through dementia. She has always loved music. I am going to tell my family about this idea.