Posted by Lucy Lazarony Mar 13 2014
We spoke with Kyle and Lindsey Wilhelm about their innovative techniques of helping stroke survivors regain their speech and movement.
Music therapists often work in collaboration with speech-language pathologists to address speech and language skills with stroke survivors. Survivors who suffer from aphasia may have difficulty speaking, but during therapy discover that they can sing an entire song fluently.
This is because the part of the brain affected by the stroke that controls expressive language (known as Broca’s area) is localized in one area of the brain while music production (singing and playing instruments) and processing (receptive listening) activates multiple areas of the brain.
By using music, the therapist can work on skills using the non-damaged areas of the brain to help the survivor relearn how to do what the damaged area of the brain used to do.
Music therapists also collaborate with physical therapists to help survivors regain functioning of both their upper and lower extremities as well as fine and gross motor skills. For example, the music therapy technique Rhythmic Auditory Stimulation (RAS) uses a steady, rhythmic pulse to help the survivor with their gait (walking). The survivor will naturally match the strong rhythmic pulse providing the temporal support to regulate individual steps and motivation to keep going.
The key to learning or relearning any skill is repetition. A typical frequency is 1-2 times per week, but additional therapy will likely improve physical and motor skills.
The music therapist can show the survivor ways to incorporate music into exercises prescribed by other therapists at home. By making the exercises more enjoyable, the survivor will be more likely to do them regularly, which can positively affect rehabilitation overall.
1) Visit the American Music Therapy Association online directory.
2) Ask your speech therapist for a recommendation.
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