By Mitch Rice
Music works wonders, and not just for our everyday enjoyment, it can work medical miracles too. Did you know that music therapy can help patients recover from a serious brain injury? Read on to find out more…
Notice how you sometimes feel like a weight has been lifted from your shoulders when you listen to music? You can relax, settle down, and switch off from the world. This is our brains reacting positively to music, subsequently reducing stress, and increasing our mood.
But music isn’t just great for socialising and relaxing; it also has proven benefits for traumatic brain injury (TBI) patients when therapy is included as part of an individual’s rehabilitation process.
In fact, music therapy has been helping trauma patients for over 100 years recover from the most severe of injuries. In this article, we’ll be taking a closer look at the history of music therapy and all its unique benefits. Let’s begin…
The History of Music Therapy
Though it’s impossible to pinpoint when music was first recognised as a healing power, we know that music’s medical benefits were heavily noted during World War I and World War II. Many soldiers were suffering from the effects of war and needed hospitalisation due to their mental and physical trauma. The music performed in hospitals lifted the patient’s spirits and had a positive impact on their wellbeing. Due to its noticeable benefits, nurses continued to use music as a form of therapy for future trauma patients.
Is There Scientific Evidence That Music Therapy Works?
Studies have found that music therapy can restore some of the cognitive functions, sensory and motor functions of the brain after a traumatic injury. This extensive research has led to several brain injury associations, including Headway, frequently using music therapy as part of their patient’s recovery process to improve their quality of life.
What Type of Activities Are There During Music Therapy?
Music therapy doesn’t just consist of the patient listening to music, it encourages patients to fully immerse themselves in the experience. Examples of music therapy include:
- Listening to music
- Playing a musical instrument
- Creating music
- Discussing lyrics
- Exercising/dancing to music
What Are the Benefits of Music Therapy for Brain Injury Patients?
Music Helps With Communication
Many people who suffer from brain trauma might struggle with communication after their injury. The trauma can sometimes mean they lose the ability to speak or have speech difficulty, speech impairment, or cognitive-communication problems.
There are two types of conditions involved with speech:
- Aphasia – where the patient has a problem speaking or understanding speech.
- Apraxia – where the patient has trouble putting together the right muscle movements to produce speech.
In some cases, aphasia patients can sing but might not be able to talk. This is because there are different areas of the brain that focus on speech. The left hemisphere of the brain is what focuses on delivering speech, and the right hemisphere of the brain is what focuses on music and singing.
Singing can help the traumatic brain injury (TBI) patient to practise pronunciation, articulation, and projection of words whilst helping to recall vocabulary. When a patient is singing as part of their music therapy, they focus on breath control speech timing to help improve their general talking.
Music Improves Mobility
Some patients who experience brain trauma will struggle with mobility, sometimes leaving them unable to walk. In most cases, the patient’s mobility will be slow and off-balance.
When we listen to music, one of the parts of the brain that is stimulated is linked to physical movement. For TBI patients, music might stimulate movements such as tapping their feet or nodding their heads. If patients have greater mobility, they might be able to dance or exercise to music as part of their session.
Music Helps with Mental Health
Those who have suffered from a serious brain injury may struggle to come to terms with their injuries. If a patient has lost their speech or movement in their body, it can be tough to cope with both mentally and physically.
Whether they choose to listen to music or get involved with other aspects such as creating music, music can be used as a coping mechanism for patients. It relaxes the brain and lifts people’s moods, helping patients to zone out and fully focus on the music.
Music Improves Cognitive Skills
When a person suffers from a brain injury, it is common that the trauma can affect their cognitive skills, such as memory. Although it’s not certain that music will help a patient to fully restore memories from their past, it can help some patients to recall certain memories by listening to songs that are familiar to their past.
Music therapy can also help with concentration skills. Patients who play musical instruments during a session will have to pay close attention to learn, meaning their minds will be solely focused on the instrument and the lesson at hand. Similarly, when writing or talking about the music, individual’s will need to concentrate on the lyrics or the rhythm.
Music Therapy Can Work Wonders
Music therapy can be an incredible treatment for those with traumatic brain injuries and there is substantial evidence to prove music’s ability to activate several aspects of the brain.
If you’re considering music therapy, make sure to do some background research first to find out whether it’s the treatment for you. Ask around for the best therapists and don’t rush into anything you’re not sure about.
Treatment might not work for everyone, but it’s definitely worth exploring if you’re struggling mentally or physically. Ultimately, be open to the idea as a form of rehabilitation for your mind and body.
Please be advised that this article is for general informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for advice from a trained medical professional. Be sure to consult a medical professional or healthcare provider if you’re seeking medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment. We are not liable for risks or issues associated with using or acting upon the information on this site.