Stroke/Brain Injury

How does Music Therapy Make a difference with Stroke/TBI patients?

Music therapy is a very effective form of therapy for those who have experienced a stroke or Traumatic Brain Injury. Music taps into a different part of the brain than speech and movement and can, therefore, help bridge the gap between the two sides of the brain. Music can bring out a beautiful transformation in clients to help them speak, communicate with loved ones, walk more fluidly, increase their mood, do simple tasks, and so many more!

“Being able to sing words can be a great reassurance to patients, showing them that their language capacities are not irretrievably lost, that the words are still ‘in’ them, somewhere, even though it may take music to bring it out.”

What do Music Therapists do?

After assessing the strengths and needs of each client, qualified music therapists develop a treatment plan with goals and objectives and then provide the indicated treatment. Music therapists structure the use of both instrumental and vocal music strategies to improve functioning or facilitate changes that contribute to life quality. They may improvise or compose music with clients, accompany and conduct group music experiences, provide instrument instruction, direct music and movement activities, or structure music listening opportunities. Music therapists are usually members of a health care interdisciplinary team and they implement programs with groups or individuals that display a vast continuum of needs, from leisure time classes and community involvement to bedside care. (Text courtesy of the American Music Therapy Association)

How does Music Therapy Help?

According to the American Stroke Association, music therapy has been scientifically and medically proven to be a valuable tool in rehabilitation after a stroke [and patients with a TBI] in areas of movement and muscle control, speech and communication, cognition, mood and motivation.


What can one expect from a music therapist?

After assessing the client’s needs, the music therapist will design a treatment plan to work towards the goals of the client. This can include singing, playing instruments, relaxation techniques, movement strategies, cognition strategies, music listening, and a variety of others.

Where do Music Therapists work?

Music therapists offer services in skilled and intermediate care facilities, adult foster care homes, rehabilitation hospitals, residential care facilities, hospitals, adult day care centers, retirement facilities, senior centers, hospices, senior evaluation programs, psychiatric treatment centers, and other facilities. Music therapists also work for agencies that provide in-home care. Some therapists are self- employed and provide individual and group music therapy services on a contract basis. (Text courtesy of the American Music Therapy Association)

Client Story

I worked with a gentleman for over five years. His wife came to me about a year after his stroke. He had been unable to say more than a word or two at a time and usually the wrong one. However, one day, the nursing home called her and told her to come immediately. He was singing “Moon River” with the karaoke machine and getting 90% of the words correct. She was floored. She immediately called me to begin work with him. More than with any other therapy, Music therapy brought speech out of him. He was able to sing a song and then say the words of the song. Within a few months, his wife began to notice a change in his confidence level. He was attempting to speak in conversations where he wouldn’t have felt able to just a few months prior. He was also beginning to use the correct words when trying to express himself. By the end of the five years, he would correctly say, “I love you” to his wife, or “thank you” when given something, or “hello, how are you?” when someone entered his room. These are just a few examples of the successes that I saw with him. He also began saying his wife’s name—something he hadn’t done since before his stroke.