Whether it is classical, jazz, or good old-fashioned rock and roll, almost everyone enjoys listening to some form of music. Music can also be good for the brain as highlighted in a recent Cochrane Systematic Review of the prevailing research on music therapy, titled Music Therapy for Acquired Brain Injury.
When someone suffers from an acquired brain injury (or ABI) their impairments can range from motor dysfunction, problems with language, cognition impairment, limited sensory processing and emotional disturbances. The presence of one or many of these symptoms can have a profound effect on the quality of life of the sufferer.
Music therapy is one of the many tools used by cognitive therapists for the purpose of cognitive remediation. The process uses music as a means to aid rehabilitation. Music therapy takes many forms:
- Rhythmic stimulation to aid movement and walking
- Singing to address speaking and voice quality
- Listening to distracting music to reduce pain
- Music improvisations to address emotional needs
- Listening to calming music to enhance a sense of well-being
Cognitive therapists that are trained in therapeutic musical techniques use these methods to try and improve the quality of life for their patients without the use of medication (or to reduce the patient’s reliance on medication). One technique commonly used in music therapy is rhythmic auditory stimulation (or RAS), which uses music with varying tempos to stimulate a patient’s motor units.
In the Cochrane Music Therapy Review, seven studies were examined (involving 184 participants), all of which were carried out by trained music therapists. The Review concluded that RAS showed promise for improving mobility and gait in brain injury patients.
If you are interested in learning more about music therapies, try visiting the American Music Therapy Association Website for more information.