The Hope of Music's Healing PowersBy Healy, Melissa; Los Angeles Times,
Publication Date: March 1, 2010
Article outlines the therapeutic use of music to improve functioning in people with disabilities. According to a neurologist cited, components of music such as pitch, harmony, melody, rhythm, and emotion engage many different regions of the brain that are also important in speech, movement, and social interaction and, if disease or trauma has disabled a brain region needed for such functions, music can sometimes coax them out by another route. In the United States, an estimated five thousand registered music therapists apply music as treatment for disabilities including (1) aphasia following stroke, wherein patients have been shown to significantly improve speech fluency with “melodic intonation therapy” which bypasses damaged speech centers in their left brain, instead engaging areas of their healthy right hemispheres that are capable of word acquisition and speech; (2) Parkinson’s disease, for which steady-beat music can be used for cueing brain regions that perceive and anticipate rhythm to initiate walking; this technique may also be appropriate for stutterers, where music's predictable beats may help initiate speech and maintain its fluency; (3) dyslexia, where intensive music instruction has been found to improve skills such as timing and concentration and with them, skills related to reading; and (4) dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, for which playing and singing songs from the patients’ past can draw them out of their social isolation; one study quoted found that dementia patients allowed to punch a button to hear a familiar song experienced improved mood, function, and performance on musical memory games.
Published by: Tribune Company (Website:http://www.tribune.com/)
Link to text: http://www.latimes.com/features/health/la-he-0301-brain-music-therapy.story