Music therapy in neuro-rehabilitation is the therapeutic application of music to address cognitive, affective, sensory and motor dysfunction. Listening to and participating in rhythmic and musical activities using rhythm, pitch, timbre and harmony enable neural processing and synchronisation across multiple brain regions.
Neurologists have suggested that music activates more parts of the brain than any other single human activity. The beauty of incorporating music as part of rehabilitation plan is that you can have fun while achieving functional goals. For instance, singing songs with repeated vowels presents opportunities for clients to improve their control of voice output, which makes it an appropriate exercise for children and adults living with vocal disorders; encouraging clients to play the drum along with their favourite tunes can focus the client’s attention and motivate them to make use of their upper limbs and improve upper body strength.
RMT music therapists are able to offer neuro-rehabilitative interventions to children and adults with a wide range of brain injuries including:
- Huntington’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis and others
- Acquired hypoxic or traumatic brain injury
- Cerebral Palsy
- Prolonged disorder of consciousness
- Life limiting conditions
Music therapy aims to improve physical independence as well as assisting with psychological aspects of the client’s engagement in daily activities. Depending on the person’s needs, treatment objectives in music therapy for neuro-rehabilitation can be grouped into three main approaches:
- Restorative using interventions to regain skill and function in a number of areas
- Compensatory using techniques to help patients compensate for a loss of function and ability
- Psycho-socio-emotional using interventions to engage, for emotional expression and communication and coping with difficulties
Such goals focus on the physiological rehabilitation of the purpose of movement, communication, cognition, memory, sensory motor skills and psychological/social well-being. Depending on the needs of the person, RMT music therapists will recommend either 1:1 or group sessions in traditional music therapy or a specialised ‘Neurological Music Therapy’ (NMT) approach.
What is Neurologic Music Therapy?
Neurologic Music Therapy (NMT) interventions are based on neuroscientific research models of music perception production and processing in the brain, and the behaviour it evokes on various levels of neurological functioning. NMT techniques have a strong evidence-base, showing how it can help clients maintain or improve their speech and communication, motor skills, cognition, learning skills and behavioural or emotional well-being.
Standardised techniques have been developed backed up by clinical evidence. Such techniques include those focused on motor function using rhythmic auditory stimulation, patterned sensory enhancement and therapeutical instrument music performance. Communication functions using musical speech stimulation, respiratory exercises, rhythmic speech cueing and vocal intonation therapy are also used. For cognition, musical mnemonics, musical executive function training and mood/memory training are utilised.
Music therapists working in neuro-rehabilitation contribute to the multi-disciplinary team around the client.
We value your lived experience of challenges presented by neuro conditions. As such, when conducting assessments, the therapist will always take your view into account, as well as using standardised assessment tools such as MATADOC and MoCA. The therapist and the client will determine what functional goals they would like to achieve within a set amount of time. The progress will be tracked and goals will be adjusted regularly. As part of a neuro-rehabiliative approach the therapist may apply one of a range assessment tools.
What is a MATADOC assessment?
The Music Therapy Assessment Tool for Awareness in Disorder of Consciousness (MATADOC) is a diagnostic assessment tool which contributes to the interdisciplinary assessment of awareness in Prolonged Disorders of Consciousness (PDOC), profound developmental disability and end stage Dementia. Developed by the Royal Hospital of Neuro-Disability it is now widely recognised as a tool for assessment and diagnosis.
The MATADOC assesses awareness through 5 behavioural domains – visual, auditory, motor, communication and arousal responses. The assessment provides an understanding of responses in order to plan for music therapy treatment and to contribute to the multidisciplinary rehabilitation goals/multidisciplinary care of the patient.
Our music therapists offer 1-1 and group sessions in either traditional music therapy or a Neurologic Music Therapy (NMT) approach. We offer ongoing sessions and tailor made rehabilitation programmes focussed on goals and outcomes.