Music Stimulation for People with Brain Injury

2014-1003 Music TherapyExcerpt of Article written by Shelly Duell | NCHPAD

Understanding Music Therapy

Music therapy is the use of music in specific ways to aid in the recovery of patients that may have a variety of deficits caused by illness, injury or congenital problems. Music therapy is research-based and designed to produce measurable outcomes. The therapist uses the sounds, patterns, rhythms and repetitions of music to address the patient’s physical, emotional, cognitive and social needs. Therapists have a bachelor’s or higher degree in a specialized music therapy program that includes a number of hours of clinical experience, certification and sometimes licensing from the state.

How Music Aids Recovery

The therapeutic benefit of music has been known for hundreds of years and includes:

  • Re-training speech and motor function after brain injury from stroke
  • Memory exercises for those with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia
  • Relaxation and distraction to reduce pain
  • Calm children to manage asthma symptoms more effectively
  • Aid in sleep patterns and weight gain for premature infants
  • Help Parkinson’s patients with motor function
  • Provide memory stimulation, stabilize emotions and increase social confidence in those with traumatic brain injury

Music Exercises

Music therapy can be used a wide variety of ways to address specific motor problems, cognitive issues or emotional problems. For example:

  • Rhythm exercises that include whole body involvement can aid in improving gait in patients who have been brain injuries from stroke or accidents.
  • Singing exercises can improve speech memory, word formation, and tonal modulation.
  • Playing instruments along with the music can help patients with motor function, memory, social integration and emotional regulation
  • Rhythmic music exercises can lower blood pressure, improve mood, and increase well-being.
  • Group music activities can help calm social anxiety and improve self-image.


Click here to read another Beyond Injury post.

Thanks to Shelly Duell for writing the article from which the excerpt was taken; NCHPAD for committing its resources to publishing the article; Google for helping me find the article; and all the other people who, directly or indirectly, made it possible to include the picture and text in this post.


  1. I completely believe in music therapy. I recently had a student with a really bad headache who asked to sit out of class because of the pain. After 20 minutes I noticed she returned to class. When I asked how she was doing, she commented that she sat with her headset on for 20 minutes. During that time she listened to calm music and her headache disappeared. In another similar case, students dance in a one hour rythmitic movement class and they comment that they are more relax.

    1. Cheryl, I find music helps me in a similar way. When I cannot think of a solution to a puzzle or an idea for a post, there are two strategies I use: listen to music or take a short nap.

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