The benefits of music therapy in rehabilitation

The benefits of music therapy in rehabilitation

Musical instruments laid out on the floor.

Friday 1 March is World Music Therapy Day, so we wanted to shine a light on the benefits of music therapy and the great work our partners Nordoff Robbins do at Holybourne Hospital and Chroma do at The Lane Fox Remeo Respiratory Centre and our case management divisionBy sending in music therapists to our services, and allowing the music therapists to come over a sustained period, Chroma enable their therapists to build relationships with our patients, which enhances even further the benefits of the music therapies they offer. 

Suffering a traumatic or acquired brain injury can lead to life-long disabilities. In such incidences, music therapy and neurologic music therapy can be successfully implemented into a person’s rehabilitation programme alongside physiotherapy, speech and language therapy and occupational therapy, to support and improve goals and outcomes.

“At Holybourne Hospital, we work with an experienced music therapist from Nordoff Robbins. Nordoff Robbins work in a flexible and open way to ensure all of our patients have the opportunity to engage, participate and enjoy the process of music making. The sessions are always ran collaboratively but led by our patients. What I personally value in music therapy is the opportunity it gives to people to be able to express themselves, communicate and connect using a creative form. 

“We know that music therapy can also aid cognitive function, coordination, and physical development. I would love to see the use of music therapy expand across more of our sites,” — Ashleigh Gonsalves, Head of Therapies at Holybourne Hospital, Group Professional Lead for Therapies

Neurologic music therapy is a systematic series of music-based interventions which addresses functional changes for people with neurological disorders. It involves techniques that use the perception, production and performance of music to stimulate, shape, and change movement dynamics, speech and language skills, and cognitive skills.

“At Remeo we have successfully used music therapy to achieve therapeutic relationships with our patients to accomplish individualised specific goals. It’s been quite astounding how it has enabled some patients to open up and discuss their concerns. When we started the project, we had been looking at physical health improvements through interacting with music therapy and how those were measured. 

“We had not anticipated the level of psychological support that music therapy was going to bring to our patients. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea but those who engage really look forward to the weekly scheduled visits. It’s a wellbeing initiative too. We love to come across staff dancing and singing in the background , it makes the day more fun.” — Michelle Freeman, Hospital Director at The Lane Fox Remeo Respiratory Centre.

Music therapy is an established psychological clinical intervention that supports people’s psychological, emotional, cognitive, physical, communicative and social needs through activities such as playing improvised music on instruments, listening to music, song writing, or learning to use melody and rhythm to support brain functioning.

Remarkably, of all senses, it is hearing that remains sharpest following a brain injury. Therefore, as long as a patient can hear, music can be used to stimulate responsiveness, which enhances rehabilitation outcomes. 

Following an assessment, implementation of neurologic music therapy enables those living with a traumatic brain injury or who are deemed in a low arousal state, to be reached in order to help improve their initial diagnosis.

Neurologic music therapy also helps redirect functions, stimulating other areas of the brain in order to relearn skills that were lost as a result of the injury. 

“The innovation and creativity used by Chroma and their music therapists has had such a positive response with clients. We find the individualised and tailored approach to client requirements and goals is second to none. Chroma also has an exceptional way of working closely with the case manager and multi-disciplinary ream,” — Janette Wynn, Managing Director at Active Care Group Case Management Division. 

It is important to support the patient’s mental wellbeing following a brain injury and this is where music is able to take rehabilitation to a new level. Neurologic music therapy takes aspects of rehabilitation that may be repetitive and boring (causing disengagement from the patient), and makes them interesting — taking the focus away from something painful. Neurologic music therapy actually makes rehabilitation more engaging, personalised and relevant, and as a result, can help to improve verbal communication, motor control and cognitive function.

Even in a minimally conscious state or severely physically impaired, neurologic music therapy can help people living with a brain injury to show signs of becoming more responsive, for example, smiling at their name being sung or when their favourite instrument is played.

“The clinical partnership Chroma has with Remeo has been amazing, and has enhanced our understanding of using neurologic music therapy with ventilated patients. We are looking forward to starting our third year with the team soon. 

“Within our case-managed work, we’re able to provide a highly consistent and high-quality music therapy service to all of Active Care Group’s case management firms across the UK. Providing bespoke but consistent services to case-managed clients is at the heart of what we do. We are looking forward to bringing Neurologic Music Therapy, and the detailed music therapy assessment tool for awareness in disorders of consciousness assessment (MATADOC) for prolonged disorders of consciousness patients to their rehabilitation settings later this year,” — Daniel Thomas, Managing Director, Music Therapist and Ofsted Responsible Individual, Chroma. 

Implementing neurologic music therapy and music therapy into the rehabilitation programme of someone living with a brain injury transforms lives. Both therapies serve to improve psychological, cognitive and functional outcomes and goals, allowing people with a traumatic brain injury, a chance at achieving a better quality of life.