All Neurorehabilitation therapy following a neurological injury or illness, is aimed at improving the independence of a person physically as well as psychologically to assist with engagement in activities of daily living through the improvement of function and abilities.
Recent neuroscience research has shown that one of the major routes for engaging with a person is through language and communication, using appropriate sensory stimulation. Elements of music are processed as non-verbal language-like structures with semantic and syntactic elements. These are processed and synchronised across multiple brain regions.
Listening to and participating in musical activities using rhythm, pitch, timbre and harmony enables 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.
Music Therapy in Neurorehabilitation is the therapeutic application of music to cognitive, affective, sensory and motor dysfunction due to disease or injury to the human nervous system.
Neurologic Music Therapy interventions are based on neuroscientific research models of music perception, production and processing on the non-musical brain and the behaviour it evokes on many levels of neurological functioning, including learning and neuroplasticity.
All Neurological music therapy techniques have a strong evidence-base, showing how it can help clients maintain or improve their speech and communication, motor skills, cognition or learning skills as well as behavioural modification and emotional well-being.
Standardized clinical techniques have been developed using scientific 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. Also for cognition, musical mnemonics, musical executive function training and mood and memory training to name a few. Such techniques use aspects of music such as rhythm, as an auditory stimulus, as a cue to begin a movement, sustain the movement and eventually entrain the brain to embed the movement once the cue has been taken away.
Individual treatment objectives for neurorehabilitation can be grouped into three main approaches depending on the patients’ needs
Music therapists working in neurorehabilitation contribute to an interdisciplinary team. The team includes physio therapists, speech and language therapists, occupational therapists and neuropsychologists.