Contact | Charity Care Policy | News | Email Sign-Up | Secure Email Portal

Neurologic Music Therapy 

Overview | FAQs | School Program | Music Therapy | Contact

The neurologic music therapy program at Craig Hospital aims to provide live-music experiences in order to facilitate recovery of non-musical functions. Neuroscience has highlighted the unique ways that music is processed by our neurologic system.  There is some overlap in how music and non-musical elements are processed neurologically, but musical ability can be left intact after a neurologic injury when the parallel non-musical function is injured. For example, after a stroke, some stroke survivors have difficulty speaking fluently, but they can sing fluently. We use this robust processing to try and elicit responses that may not come out in other therapies. It is important to note that our brains are hard-wired to processes music, even if we do not have any musical training or experience. Here is how various elements of music can work in rehabilitation: 

  • Rhythm is processed in areas of the brain that also process motor planning, motor coordination, and general motor movement. Rhythm is a powerful tool for motor rehabilitation. 
  • Melody and pitch are processed in areas that also process prosody. Melody and pitch can be very effective at helping to re-train the prosody and inflection that are key to conveying meaning when we speak. 
  • Harmonic structure is key for cueing a response, and can often elicit fairly automatic responses when used in the presence of an overlearned song. 
  • Volume translates very well into force for motor or respiratory function.
  • The sensory input provided by playing instruments can be very effective in motor rehabilitation. Using instruments to train functional movements creates visual, auditory and tactile feedback that helps the brain to understand the outcome of the movement. This is especially important for individuals who have difficulty with proprioception.

The neurologic music therapy program serves patients in the in-patient and out-patient program at Craig Hospital. Neurologic music therapy services are delivered by a board-certified music therapist with advanced training in neurologic music therapy. 

Sarah Thompson, MM, MT-BC, CBIS
Board Certified Music Therapist
Certified Brain Injury Specialist
Neurologic Music Therapist-Fellow
Sthompson@craighospital.org