Music therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program (American Music Therapy Association, 2010).
Music therapy is a well-established allied health profession that uses music to address the following areas of human development: Cognitive, Communication, Emotional, Physical, and Social.
Through the motivating medium of music, positive outcomes are possible within therapy settings and transferred to other areas of life. Because of its various elements (rhythm, timbre, tempo, emotional association, etc), music affects many areas of the brain simultaneously. Rhythmic elements and music can help create new neuropathways, which stimulate brain function.
Neurologic music therapy (NMT) is the therapeutic application of music to cognitive, sensory, and motor dysfunctions that come from human neurologic diseases. NMT treatment is based on stimulating music perception and production parts in the human brain and the effects thereof on non-musical and behavior functions. The targeted neurological dysfunctions include stroke, traumatic brain injury, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, cerebral palsy, Alzheimer's disease, autism, and other neurological conditions affecting cognition, movement, and communication (e.g., MS, muscular dystrophy, developmental disabilities, etc.). Treatment techniques are standardized for functional therapeutic outcomes in areas such as gait, upper extremity functioning, cognitive functioning, and speech and communication. The music therapist helps in the retraining of lost abilities, assists the recovery process, and teaches adaptive and coping strategies. (Taut, Michael. The Center for Biomedical Research in Music).
Specific neurologic music therapy techniques that include singing, rhythm, movement, drumming/playing instruments, lyrics analysis, and more are determined to address issues such as communication disorders (aphasia, apraxia, dysarthria, etc.), gait training, short and long-term memory, focus and attention, motor skills and affected side, and emotional processing and well-being.
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