Music therapy is “clinical and evidence-based use of music intervention” to achieve certain goals within a therapeutic relationship by a certified health expert who has successfully completed an approved music therapy course (American Music Therapy Association). Music therapy is a well-established medical care vocation in which highly trained and qualified healthcare experts use music to address social, emotional, cognitive, physical, and psychological needs of patients or clients (Wainapel and Avital 13).
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After carefully reviewing needs of a patient, a music therapist provides the client with music therapy treatment that mostly includes playing, singing, and creating music (Whipple 123). Scholars have argued that music provides good communication avenues, which are very essential in solving problems for clients who have difficulties expressing themselves (Whipple 94).
Music therapy is also essential in facilitating treatment, increasing motivation, expressing feeling, and providing patients with emotional support necessary to promote good health (American Music Therapy Association).
Apart from providing people with entertainment, music is widely used for treatment (Whipple 94). Because of this feature, music therapy is considered as “an art and a science” (Whipple 94). In a hospital setting, clients are referred for music therapy session by other doctors after carefully assessing their condition and healthcare needs. On the other hand, clients can also choose music therapy without necessary being referred by a health expert; this is known as self-referral (American Music Therapy Association).
Music therapists are almost found everywhere especially in healthcare centers and they play a vital role in helping patients with special needs to improve communication and motor skills (Wainapel and Avital 124). Music therapists also work with elderly people and they are useful in helping them to cope with life at old age.
Music therapy and stroke patients
Music can act as stroke therapy especially when combined with other treatment techniques (Wainapel and Avital 93). In a number of cases, music therapists have assisted stroke victims to recover. Scholar and researchers around the world have proved that music has a great effect on the human brain. According to research, music is able to “affect human emotions and social interaction” (Wainapel and Avital 92).
In fact, research has proved beyond doubt that music is able to reduce stress, improve the general mood, and decrease the level of depression in human beings (American Music Therapy Association). Most recent studies have showed that music can help in reducing negative feeling hence improving clients’ motivation (Whipple 99).
Health experts have also argued that when music is combined with other traditional treatments techniques, it can facilitate faster recovery of stroke patients. This is because music has shown ability to improve emotional and motivation for patients (Wainapel and Avital 123).
A study conducted recently showed that, when music is incorporated in therapy session of a stroke patient, such a patient is likely to recover faster than when exercise is used alone for treatment (Koen 16). In addition to this, research has shown that stroke patients become more involved in therapy sessions once music is incorporated in the treatment program; this is the motivational aspect of music (Wainapel and Avital 111).
Wainapel and Avital argues that music therapy helps in clients’ social functioning therefore motivating them to participate more in the rehabilitation process (265). Different researchers have supported that when music is used together with traditional therapy, it is able to help stroke patient deal with emotional and social deficits that arise from stroke and hence speeding recovery of such patients (Koen 29).
Moreover, music has shown to improve motor skills for stroke patients. Different rhythms produced by music are responsible in stimulating the auditory nerves in the human sensory organ (Goodman 37). Once music therapy is combined with traditional therapy during patients’ rehabilitation, it improves recovery process enabling the patients to walk.
The outcomes of combining therapy session with music therapy have been studied extensively. In fact, research has shown that when stroke patient receive music therapy especially learning how to play instruments such as piano and guitar, they tend to improve motor skills within a short period (Goodman 37).
In addition, music therapy enhances communication by improving speech for stroke patients (Wainapel and Avital 102). Combination of music therapy in the rehabilitation process of stroke patients really helps in developing speech. In a study conducted by American Medical Association, stroke patients were divided into two groups.
One group received traditional therapy only while the other group received traditional therapy combined with music therapy. Under observation, the two groups continued receiving therapy for specific period. The group that received traditional therapy combined with music therapy showed quick recovery rates than the one that did not receive music therapy.
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The patient receiving traditional therapy and music therapy showed great improvement in speech and communication since they were regularly singing, rapping, and chanting (Goodman 27). Such exercises (singing, chanting, and rapping) have proved to improve mouth muscle recovery for stroke patients.
Why music therapy is effective in treating stroke patients and others
I believe music is very helpful in improving health. Generally, stroke patients experience walking difficulties, communication problems, headaches, numbness, and visual problems (Goodman 42). On the other hand, music therapy has proved to facilitate muscle recovery, speech, motivational, and mood among others problems (Goodman 7). Activities such as playing guitar, piano, or a drum can facilitate muscle movements for stroke patients.
In addition to this, music that contains certain message can enhance cognitive development for patients (Wainapel and Avital 121). As such, activities such as writing lyrics and performing creative music can help stroke patients and others to improve their mental state. On the other hand, activities that allow movement of mouth muscles such as singing, rapping, and chanting can be of great help to stroke patients who have speech problems (American Music Therapy Association).
Finally, since music has the ability to affect human moods and feelings, once patients are engaged in activities that provides aesthetic qualities of music, they tend to improve their moods and motivation hence improving the general health (Goodman 23).
In conclusion, music therapy has the ability to improve the quality of life. This is because music has great effect on the human brain (Whipple 112). In fact, music has certain form of effect on emotions that in turns triggers a certain response in the human brain (Wainapel and Avital 124).
Patients who have incurred injuries in the brain or have brain problems also appear to respond to music therapy. Because of this, music therapists have continued using different music rhythms to organize the brain hence helping patients with disabilities to respond to other treatment techniques and therefore promoting fast recovery (Wainapel and Avital 124).
Because of its vital role in the healthcare sector, music therapy as a discipline is found in different settings including schools, hospitals, correctional centers, and nurseries among others (Goodman 23). When combined with other treatment models, music therapy can play a vital role in recovery of stroke patients, clients with heart problems, and epilepsy among others. As such, music therapy can greatly improve the quality of life.
American Music Therapy Association. What is Music Therapy. 2012. Web. <https://www.musictherapy.org/about/musictherapy/>
Goodman, Doron (2011). Music Therapy Education and Training: From Theory to Practice. Illinois: Charles Thomas Press, 2011. Print.
Koen, Benjamin. The Oxford Handbook of Medical Ethnomusicology. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008. Print.
Wainapel, Stanley, and Avital Fast. Alternative Medicine and Rehabilitation. New York: Demos Medical Publishing, 2003. Print.
Whipple, Jennifer. Music in intervention for children and Adolescents with Autism: A Meta-Analysis. Journal of Music Therapy, 41. 2 (2004): 90–156. Print.