Music Therapy’s Effect Among Those With TBI and Stroke

Music therapy has an effect on many areas of one’s functioning. These areas include cognition, physicality, communication, social interaction, and emotional wellness. When someone experiences a stroke or traumatic brain injury (TBI), these areas can be impacted greatly, and music therapy can be a method of support as well as rehabilitation. This article states that at the time, there was little research in the stroke and TBI realm, but there were other studies that assessed positive effects for other populations. This article quotes another study in 1992 by MacRae Statine, “Because music is laden with emotional associations and memories, it provides an effective medium for evoking emotional responses. This study specifically addresses “whether music therapy is effective as an aid to enhance a patient’s mood, social interaction, and involvement in therapy during acute rehabilitation”. 

This study contained 18 participants with moderate to severe symptoms. Measurements were taken by the patient themselves, by their family, by their therapist, and other staff. Patients were randomly assigned to control or treatment groups and those receiving treatment would meet 2-3 times per week to receive music therapy sessions in addition to their standard rehabilitation. 

The music therapy goals were specifically to enhance mood and increase social interaction, and each session was based on the needs of the group (which is a typical music therapy practice). The session would normally contain an opening song or activity to set the mood and encourage participants to engage in the session. Other interventions would include singing, composing, playing instruments, improvising, and listening to music. The group made choices in what they would like to do each week and consideration would be given to the benefit of the intervention if it would enhance mood and socialization. 

The results of this study showed that the more impaired a participant’s social behavior was at the beginning of treatment, the more they would benefit from therapy. Researchers also found greater improvement in recovery from those in music therapy treatment than the control group. 

By Gwen D’Amico, MT-BC

Citation: Nayak, S., Wheeler, B. L., Shifflet, S. C., & Agostinelli, S. (2000). Effect of music therapy on mood and social interaction among individuals with acute traumatic brain injury and stroke. Rehabilitation Psychology, 45(3), 274.