by Jamie E. Gilliam, MTI
A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head, or penetrating head injury that results in disruption in the normal function of the brain (1). In 2013 approximately 2.8 million people visited the emergency room for TBI-related injuries (2). The severity of a brain injury ranges from mild (resulting in a brief change in consciousness) to severe (resulting in extended period of change in consciousness and potentially life-changing effects).
Depending on the injury, a TBI can cause short or long-term changes in cognition, speech, and physical abilities. The effects of a severe brain injury can last for the extent of the survivor’s life. Rehabilitation services are provided to help restore or maintain functional abilities and improve quality of life. A typical rehabilitation team includes a neuropsychologist, physical therapist, occupational therapist, speech-language therapist, and a music therapist.
Last Monday, I attended the 2017 Brain Injury Association of North Carolina Annual Family Conference for brain injury survivors and their families in Selma, NC. This was an excellent opportunity for families of survivors to connect with each other and with community resources. The sessions I attended, which are summarized below, focused on including the survivor in their treatment plan (when appropriate), networking with other families and supporters in the community, and gaining access to any and all services available.
Communication Support Teams
Maura English Silverman, MS, CCC/SLP – Triangle Aphasia Project
After a traumatic event, friends in the community want to help but need guidance on how to help. This session focused on how to create a strong support network for survivors of TBI and their families. With the convenience of social media, a survivor’s family can create a page with a schedule of doctor or therapy appointments, meals, and recreation time. Volunteers can sign up to help with recreation time, bringing meals to the family, or with transportation. Using the calendar to give a music therapist notice, family members are able to participate in sessions, focusing on family strengthening and communication.
Kenneth Bausell, BSN, RN – Division of Medical Assistance
Sara Wilson, CBIS – Alliance Behavioral Healthcare
This session was focused on the Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services TBI waiver program. The purpose of this waiver is to provide rehabilitation services and support through the community to facilitate recovery, promote independence, and community involvement. The goals of the waiver are to
This waiver would cover music therapy, as it is an evidenced-based, person-centered practice that can be used to promote self-sufficiency. Music therapy can be used individually to work on rehabilitation goals, or in a group of caregivers and family members to promote the development of a strong support team. As music is intrinsically motivating, the survivor’s outlook on rehabilitation can be boosted through successful experiences in music therapy.
Art Therapy / Music Therapy
Yael Divon, MSATC – Cary Art Therapy, LLC
Allison Hingley, MM, MT-BC – Atlantic Music Therapy, LLC
Art therapy is frequently used with those who have sustained a brain injury, especially with mild TBIs. Art therapy is a mental health profession that addresses psychological, social, physical, and cognitive issues through creative activities, facilitated by an art therapist. A goal in art therapy is to improve or restore a patient’s functioning and their sense of personal wellbeing (4).
Research has shown that the use of music therapy, specifically neurologic music therapy (NMT), can help patients with rehabilitative goals in cognition, sensory, and motor control (5, 6). Neuroplasticity, the ability of the brain to change and create new pathways, is a huge component in rehabilitation of the brain. Because music is processed globally, music helps to create and strengthen new pathways around the damaged part of the brain (7). NMT consists of twenty research based techniques, which address sensorimotor, speech/language, and cognitive goals (8).
If you or someone you know has survived a traumatic brain injury, help is available. To find out more about how music therapy can help in rehabilitation for TBI survivors, or how it can provide support for families and caregivers, contact us!
(1) Traumatic Brain Injury. 2017. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/traumaticbraininjury/basics.html
(2) Taylor, C.A., Bell, J.M., Breiding, M.J., Xu L. (2017) Traumatic brain injury-related emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and deaths - United States, 2007 and 2013. MMWR Surveillance Summaries 66(9),1–16. http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.ss6609a1.
(3) TBI Waiver Draft. 2017. Retrieved from: https://ncdma.s3.amazonaws.com/s3fs-public/documents/files/TBI_Waiver_Draft-for_Public_Comment_2016_01.pdf
(4) What is art therapy? 2017. Retrieved from: https://www.arttherapy.org/upload/whatisarttherapy.pdf
(5) Belin, P., Van Eeckhout, P., Zilbovicius, M., et al. (1996). Recovery from nonfluent aphasia after melodic intonation therapy. Neurology 47(6), 1504–1511. http://dx.doi.org/10.1212/WNL.47.6.1504
(6) Thaut, M.H., Leins, A.H., Rice, R.R., et al. (2007). Rhythmic auditory stimulation improves gait more than NDT/Bobath training in near-ambulatory patients early post stroke: A single blind randomized control trial. Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair 21(5), 455–459. https://doi.org/10.1177/1545968307300523
(7) Schlaug, G. “Music, musicians, and brain plasticity,” in S. Hallam, I. Cross, and M. H. Thaut, eds., The Oxford Handbook of Music Psychology (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008): 197–208.
(8) Thaut, M.H., Hoemberg, V. (2014) Handbook of neurologic music therapy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Allison G. Hingley, MM, MT-BC
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