A Collaboration Between Music Therapy and Speech Pathology in a Pediatric Rehabilitation Setting

In a pediatric rehabilitation setting, Leung (2008) collaborated with a Speech-Language Pathologist in the case of an 11-year-old male, Sam, who sustained severe injuries from a collision with a barbed wire fence while riding a four-wheel motorcycle. Due to the severity of Sam’s injuries, he was referred to Leung for improved verbal articulation and communication by the speech-language pathologist. Using a co-treatment collaboration model, the music therapist and speech-language pathologist used song singing and drum and vocal improvisation.

Song singing provided Sam a predictable structure enabling them to focus and become distracted from unfamiliar sensations experienced with a speaking valve, ultimately increasing his tolerance for the speaking valve. Drum and vocal improvisations combined non-vocal and vocal output. Through encouragement, Sam played rhythmic patterns presented by the music therapist on the drum followed by vocalizations of the same pattern with phonics/sounds suggested by the speech-language pathologist. This intervention provided motivation and increased feelings of physical and psychological control along with increasing Sam’s communication capacity. Using these methods of intervention, Sam improved in the areas of tongue control and speech production, ultimately becoming 90% intelligible at the sentence level and spontaneous speech at the time of inpatient discharge.

Using a written questionnaire, Leung collected Sam and Sam’s mother’s evaluation of their experience of the combined music therapy and speech therapy program. In Sam’s mother’s evaluation, Leung received back “the combined program was most helpful [to Sam] because he seemed to enjoy it more than individual speech therapy. Sam doesn’t like ‘hard work,’ so the music has distracted him. He was working and practicing, but it didn’t seem like work to him.” Coinciding with his mother’s evaluation, Sam wrote “I hate the [vocal] exercises, whenever I say them, I feel stupid…because I can’t do them. But I love doing it in music, because you [the music therapist] made it fun.”

Leung’s collaboration with a speech-language pathologist demonstrates that speech therapy and music therapy can play complementary roles to one another when addressing common goals including breath control, aural motor coordination, and speech production. Using a co-treatment model approach, Lueng and the Speech-Language Pathologist were able to assist Sam through an interactive and engaging rehabilitation program. In this co-treatment model, Lueng maximized Sam’s motivation and potential for achieving his communication goals, while the speech-language pathologist provided therapeutic interventions with measurable outcomes to assist Sam in re-learning his speech skills. For more information please continue to www.centralohiomusictherapy.com or www.musictherapy.org.

By Sara May, MT-BC

Leung, M. (2008). A Collaboration Between Music Therapy and Speech Pathology in a Pediatric Rehabilitation Setting. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy, 8(3). https://doi.org/10.15845/voices.v8i3.417