Musical Therapy for Brain Injuries

Immediate action is vital to the successful treatment of a traumatic brain injury (TBI). As soon as the causing event occurs, damage begins spreading throughout the brain, leading to increased risk for more serious injury, or even death. Recent reports are discussing a new treatment option that is showing some optimistic results.

The technical magazine, Xconomy, is reporting that music is the latest tool in the fight against brain injury complications. A new Boston-based company is reportedly leading the initiative with an innovative specialization called Neurological Music Therapy (NMT).

How it Works

Familiar music is reportedly played for the TBI patient during an appointment. If speech is the major issue of concern, the therapist encourages the patient to sing along with the song. If movement is the major concern, the patient is encouraged to walk or move to the rhythm of the song. The rationale behind this therapy is a perceived connection between music, language and movement. Some experts even suggest a connection between music and the general thought process. According to the report, stroke victims are routinely able to sing before they can talk, as part of their rehabilitation. The report states that the brain’s ability to process music often survives damage to brain cells.

The goal of the therapy is reportedly to rewire the brain. As stated in the article, when parts of the brain that normally handle speech and movement are damaged, therapists may possibly train other sections of the brain to adequately handle these functions.

NMT reportedly gained national attention in 2011. In response to injuries sustained from a gunshot wound, former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords underwent NMT as part of her rehabilitation. According to reports, the efforts were successful at helping her regain some of her language skills and movements. Since that time, the therapy gained steady support and is now reportedly used by some of the country’s top medical facilities, to include:

***Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago
***Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital of Boston
***Craig Hospital in Denver, Colorado

Brain Harris is CEO of the aforementioned Boston company. He is quoted in the article as stating, “I 100 percent believe neurologic music therapy will become [so] mainstream, that when you say it people will understand it. When people see the drastic results that can be had, it is absolutely amazing, and the more we understand how music affects the brain, the more important it is going to be in neurorehabilitation.”

This progress may prove challenging to reach however, if insurance companies fail to recognize the value in NMT. According to Harris, many companies refuse to cover the procedure as necessary standard rehabilitation treatment. But he is optimistic that this will change as the therapy is more commonly used alongside physical and speech therapies.

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