Music therapy can support children and adolescents with acquired brain injuries reach their rehabilitation goals.
The registered music therapist, who is also a qualified neurologic music therapist, can apply specific neurologic music therapy techniques to address sensorimotor, speech and language and cognitive rehabilitation goals.
The techniques involve a variety of instrumental playing, familiar song singing and vocal exercises. Overlearning of songs with words may represent a special form of neural representation more resistant to interference post brain injury (Gentle et al, 2015). Psychological and ecological properties of music stimuli provide a structure, which helps focus attention and increase motivation (Thaut & Johnson, 2003).
These techniques can be applied in a flexible manner, and adapt to the needs and preferences of the individual.
In addition, music therapy can assist children and adolescents with acquired brain injuries to use music to cope with their experiences and challenges.
This can be done through song singing, music listening, instrumental playing or improvisation and song writing, within a supportive therapeutic relationship.
Robert* is 15 years old and was involved in a motor vehicle accident which resulted in an acquired brain injury.
Due to his injury, Robert has speech deficits that impact his ability to produce vocal sounds for functional communication. He was referred to music therapy by his support coordinator, which was further encouraged by his mother and speech pathologist.
Robert participates in music therapy once a week at his school. His music therapy goals are to improve his breath capacity and control, increase his volume of vocal sounds, and increase his confidence in using his voice.
Within these sessions, Robert’s music therapist addresses these goals by supporting him in vocal exercises, oral motor and respiratory exercises utilising instruments and technology and therapeutic singing with familiar songs of his choice.
The music therapist works collaboratively with Robert’s speech pathologist to ensure consistency in approaches towards acheiving his goals.
* Real name not used.