Music Therapy in Pediatric Neurorehabilitation

You may have heard about Music Therapy as a treatment for individuals with neurological conditions. It is used often for improvements in adults with neurological conditions as well as a strategy for distraction in pediatric procedures. If you child has been hospitalized, they may have had this treatment during unpleasant procedures.
musical instruments

Music therapy has a much wider range than the huge benefit of distraction. It is a researched specialty that is provided by individuals specially education in this technique. A Music Therapist completes a bachelor’s degree and extensive clinical experience to receive certification.

Just a few of the benefits include:

  • Stimulation of neural activity
  • Provides relaxation to help reduce anxiety and stress
  • Increases breathing and vocal projection through the use of singing
  • Creates a rhythm for motor skills of the body including speech
  • Stimulates the brain to enhance cognitive thinking
  • Provides alternative ways of communication

A huge benefit is enjoyment by both the child and caregiver as music is fun, enjoyable and can brighten the day.

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It is important to choose music that is appropriate for the child (not the adult). Small children enjoy children’s songs, older children may focus on more popular tunes such as rock, country, rap or music by current popular stars. Some children may appreciate orchestral, jazz, or other ‘adult’ type of music depending on the situation and activity.

Become involved with your child by adding music to their therapeutic routines. Small children will enjoy songs such as Run Baby Run by Casper Baby Pants while you perform their leg exercises to the song and adapt movements to the different verses. Older children and teens can move or be moved to the beat of their chosen songs.

You can also ‘sing’ the steps for catheterizing, checking the skin, and bowel programs. This not only can help to learn the steps of the activities but can also create a pleasant environment for doing these activities.

Prompting the age-appropriate child to sing along regardless of their ability will help with deep breathing and oral motor skills.

Listening to music with your child can create moments of fun, delight and closeness.

If you want to have your child involved with Music Therapy, you can request the treatment from the child’s healthcare provider. If the time the Music Therapist is involved is limited, be sure to discuss how you can become involved and progress the treatments when you and your child are on your own.

Another opportunity for music therapy can occur if there is a Music Therapist at your child’s school. If not, you can discuss with the administration bringing in a Music Therapist for a group of students. Your local public library may also be willing to support a group.

You may want to hire a private Music Therapist or collectively hire one with other parents. Both individual treatment sessions and group sessions provide significant value to your child. 

About the Author - Nurse Linda

Linda Schultz, Ph.D., CRRN is a leader, teacher, and provider of rehabilitation nursing for over 30 years. In fact, Nurse Linda worked closely with Christopher Reeve on his recovery and has been advocating for the Reeve Foundation ever since.

Nurse Linda

The opinions expressed in these blogs are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation.