Traumatic Brain Injury

How Can Music Therapy help my loved one with a Traumatic Brain Injury?

Piano-hands-photoThe wonderful thing about music is that it is a “whole brain phenomenon.” When you just listen to music, you are engaging three areas of the brain –the frontal, parietal, and temporal lobes. Listening to music has shown to increase dopamine levels that current neuropsychological theories associate with positive affect and feelings of well-being.

The music therapist will provide more active engagement in music activities to assist with rehabilitation of physical, cognitive, speech/language, and emotional skills.

Therapeutic Instrumental Music Playing will help stretch and strengthen muscles as well as build fine and gross motor movements. Playing an instrument – grasping a mallet, beating a drum, depressing keys on a keyboard, strumming a guitar – may be facilitated by the music therapist. No previous experience in playing a musical instrument is necessary.

Moving to music with a strong beat has been shown to assist many in regaining the ability to walk. The rhythm guides the steps and helps with motor planning.

Engaging with music may also help relieve pain and reduce stress and anxiety associated with injuries. Physiological changes occur when making music, including improved respiration and cardiac output, lower blood pressure and heart rate, and relaxed muscle tension.

The structure of songs can help with concentration, memory, and the sequencing of events. If long-term memory remains intact, music also enables a person to reminisce and reconnect with others in their life. Another method, song writing, requires generating ideas and organizing, which helps work on concentration and other executive functions.

When the language center of the brain is damaged, the music section may or may not be damaged. If your loved one is unable to talk, he may still be able to sing. Therapeutic singing can work on aspects of speech such as breath control, phrasing, contour, and timing.

After a TBI, there may be emotional disturbances such as depression. Playing melodic and percussion instruments offers a chance to self-express nonverbally. Structured and unstructured improvisations are a way to provide individuals with an expressive outlet for feelings they may be experiencing. The music therapist provides positive and successful experiences that focus on the individual’s remaining abilities which helps to maintain motivation through rehab.