Music therapy supporting residents recovering from a brain injury
Voyage Care’s specialist brain injury rehabilitation service in Cheshire has successfully trialled using music therapy to redevelop skills with residents who have suffered a brain injury. The team paired up with a specialist music therapy company, Chroma, to offer this expressive art therapy.
It is one of many collaborative techniques the team use to support and encourage people recovering from brain injuries to improve their quality of life and regain their independence.
Two of the residents, Louise* and Joe* have worked with music therapist, Rachel Swanick from Chroma once a week for 11 weeks.
Louise, who understands language but finds it hard to articulate really engaged with the process towards identified outcomes. The aims of Louise’s music therapy sessions were:
- To increase her creativity
- Develop the use of her right arm/hand
- Advance her verbalisation and language skills
- Improve her kinaesthetic awareness
- Develop and improve her socialisation skills
Louise progressed well and would participate in singing along to the tune of any Beatles’ songs or Frère Jacques and would use the names of her family members in place of the normal Frère Jacques lyrics; in this way, the melody acted as a scaffold for new functional language. Her consultant at the Seddon Suite was so impressed with Louise’s improvement that she continues with the music therapy sessions to aid her recovery.
Joe, who mostly uses single words, also engaged fully with his music therapy process. The aims of Joe’s music therapy sessions were:
- Drumming in tune using alternate hands – Joe’s right hand worked much better than his left.
- Physical exercise to the music – working on copying the rhythm using both hands.
- Free improvisation – working on Joe’s creativity to the beat and sounds.
Joe’s favourite piece of equipment was the bongo drums. Joe improved weekly during the music sessions and eventually was able to beat rhythmically and responsively along to Rachel’s music.
Daniel Thomas, joint managing director of Chroma, added: “The success of using music as a treatment modality clearly demonstrates the difference Chroma’s approach can bring to the quality of people’s lives, especially those with an acquired brain injury. We hope to build our partnership with Voyage Care to deliver many more of these necessary therapy projects across the UK.”
Joanne Smith, Therapy Co-ordinator at Voyage Care, said: “Music is something all staff at the brain injury rehabilitation service like to incorporate into the day, the residents especially like George Michael or ABBA on the radio! It’s been wonderful to see the residents respond so well to the music therapy.”
Louise Houghton, BIR Placements Manager at Voyage Care, said, “Chroma has been great to work with and we’re hoping to build on our partnership to get more fantastic outcomes like this.”
* Names changed for confidentiality