Can Music Therapy help my child with Cerebral Palsy?

What is Music Therapy?

Music Therapy is the use of music to attain non-musical goals.  Where a physical therapist will use balls and bars, I use music as my tool to facilitate change.  The goals reached through MT are typically social, physical, or cognitive.Research in Music Therapy supports its effectiveness in many areas: physical rehabilitation, facilitating movement, increasing motivation and engagement in treatment, providing emotional support for clients and their families, and providing an expressive outlet.  

Why is Music Therapy especially therapeutic 

for children with cerebral palsy?

Music is a very basic human response, spanning all degrees of ability. Music therapists are able to meet a client wherever he is and help him to grow from there.Although cerebral palsy by definition affects motor skills, it is often accompanied by disturbances of sensation, cognition, communication, perception, and behavior and seizure disorders – all of which may arise from different areas of the brain. Music bridges and enhances cross-brain connections, making music therapy especially effective in reaching these children. 

What goals can my child meet through Music Therapy?

Music therapy can be effective in addressing many typical characteristics of cerebral palsy. 

I worked with a young man with severe cerebral palsy, who was unable to move his limbs very much, but beat a drum during his music therapy sessions with me.  His mother and I both noticed the complete joy he had in this experience.  For a teenager who is cognitively high functioning, but physically very low functioning, this was a beautiful way for him to engage in a musical encounter. 

Physical Goals:

Verbal and Expressive Goals:

Social Goals:

Family Goals:

An individual’s growth through music therapy can improve the quality of life for the whole family.

Relaxation and Quality of Life:

Relaxation - Music therapy can address goals of relaxation, helping a client learn techniques to use at home.  This can help a client with cerebral palsy to sleep better, relax limbs, give pain relief and enjoy a higher quality of life. 

Quality of Life - Making music, music listening, socializing through music, reminiscing, song writing, and so many more goals, allow a patient to have a higher quality of life that is not available without musical stimulation. 

How can I get started?

When you're ready, you can contact me to set up an appointment.  Typically our first meeting is a no-cost consultation where we discuss your child's condition, the goals you'd like him or her to pursue through music therapy, and get a sense for who I am as a therapist.

If you're not ready to call yet, I've compiled much more information about Music Therapy that you can review from the navigation bar on the left.  I'd recommend starting with What to Expect from a Music Therapist.

Is There Research to Support Music Therapy for Individuals with Cerebral Palsy?

Yes!  You can find extensive research through peer-reviewed journals. The American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) maintains a research bibliography of select articles and publications for those interested in specific research examples.  There are also two peer-reviewed journals within the profession: the Journal of Music Therapy, and Music Therapy Perspectives