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Five Ways Music Therapy is Changing the World

Posted Feb 01 2013 10:08pm
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The number of universities offering degrees in music therapy is steadily increasing as the effects of music in medicine have grown more noteworthy.  Now music therapy is widely recognized by government, medical organizations, and education centers as a professional practice that can bring aid to many different types of patients. Here are a few of the most common ways that music therapy can be used.

Music therapy hit the spotlight in 2012 when the U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords received a serious head injury in a Tucson, Arizona shooting. Rep. Giffords was able to regain her ability to speak thanks to hospital therapy, including music therapy. Many hospitals and therapists have begun to use music in similar ways, helping people relearn abilities lost through serious trauma.

Brain injuries frequently lead to the loss of learned skills, such as language or motor skills. The parts of the brain that once managed such activities, now damaged, can no longer perform. Music, however, is not processed in the same way as language. The brain responds differently to melody and rhythm, using different sectors and pathways to communicate the meaning behind music. Therapists can use these musical pathways to reassign once-lost abilities. In other words, music serves as a crutch for the adaptable brain, enabling it to achieve past functionality in a different way.

Hospitals are using music for far more than treating brain injuries. The beneficial effects of music in everyday situations can also aid patients who are receiving treatments and surgeries. Music can help pain medication become more effective, providing an extra layer of distraction from long-term pain. It can also encourage people to move and test their limits when undergoing physical rehabilitation after an injury. Softer music can encourage rest, reduce muscle tension, and help fitful patients sleep as well.

Music therapy shines even brighter when it deals with permanent disabilities. Music therapists love working in this field because the results are so overwhelmingly positive. Mental disabilities such as autism, Alzheimer’s, learning difficulties can be successfully treated with music. While music cannot remove disabilities, it serves as a valuable tool in enabling patients. Those struggling with autism can use music to express themselves more clearly and find meaning in social gatherings. Those dealing with Alzheimer’s can maintain their quality of life for longer periods of time through the sensory and intellectual stimulation music provides.

This type of music therapy is often conducted in groups by skilled music therapists. Often, patients are encouraged to create music themselves in order to establish connections between therapists and patients or between patients and peers. The modern wave of tablets, smartphones, and music apps has been invaluable in furthering this type of treatment. Now patients can use simple mixing and synthesizing software to creating music of their own with just a few swipes of their fingers, a perfect solution for many with physical or learning disabilities. Sometimes therapists also help patients express themselves in other ways while listening to music.

Greater communication is clearly a cornerstone of music therapy. However, patients do not need to have brain damage or a disability to benefit from this approach. From a psychiatric perspective, music therapy helps bridge emotional gaps too, leading to more successful therapy sessions and better conflict resolution. Troubled children adolescents can find alternative ways to show what they are feeling or thinking through music, leading to breakthroughs and successful rehabilitation. The more sensitive the issue, the more likely music can serve as a comfortable avenue of communication.

This type of music therapy performs best when it is personally monitored by a therapist in a one-on-one situation. The music therapist can work with an individual patient to find the most effective apps, tunes, and instruments to enable communication.

Depression and anxiety plague people around the world, and have led to dozens of various alternative treatments. Music therapy offers proven techniques for relaxation and mood improvement. Patients being treated for depression can also learn to play an instrument or create music as a new, uplifting exercise that will help them overcome their current struggles.

About the Author: Justin Miller is a professional blogger that writes on a variety of topics including  electric guitar lessons . He writes for JamPlay.com, a leading online music educator offering 2,000+  guitar lessons for kids  online in HD.
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