Successes | Traumatic Brain Injury Treatment Sessions

Music Therapist Journal

Medical Diagnosis: Traumatic brain injury, visual impairment
Patient: Ben, male, age 29
Therapy Setting: Residential rehabilitation center
Intervention Type: Individual
Intervention Method: Lyric analysis, songwriting, therapeutic singing
Academic Goals: Cognitive sustainability, memory recall
Motor Goals: Balance, breath support, right- and left-hand coordination
Social Goals: Community interaction and participation, interpersonal communication, self-expression, volunteering

Ben and I have been working together for six months in an individual adaptive music lesson setting. These sessions initially focused on piano, however, shortly after we began meeting, it was apparent that Ben had a natural vocal talent. Due to physical pain and emotional frustration, we again modified the treatment plan to exclude piano and focus solely on voice. Our sessions included therapeutic singing, active music making, relaxation, and lyric analysis. The lyric analysis encouraged a deeper look at meanings and symbolism of lyrics, and Ben decided that he could use songwriting to process certain situations that he was facing at that time. Since June, we have written four songs and a poem read to music. We’ve also performed personal arrangements of songs by many other artists, including The Doors, Dave Matthews, and Lee Ann Womack.

Ben has found comfort, support, and meaning in music, especially songwriting. He memorizes all of his songs for performances, which provides cognitive stimulation. He is making progress with breath support, which not only strengthens his breath, but helps with his speech and articulation. And by accompanying himself with percussive instruments during parts of his songs, he is becoming rhythmically entrained to his music to play on beat, assisting motor coordination.

It has been a pleasure working with Ben, and I look forward to continuing our work together. As Ben continues performing, it is my goal for him to share the story of his accident, survival, and transition to living with traumatic brain injury by performing his music throughout the community from coffee shops to youth centers.

Patient Testimony
“At first it was painful learning how to play the piano, but there was such a bright aura around the music, that I knew I didn’t want to give it up completely, so I asked for voice lessons. Shortly after this change, Becky suggested that we write songs about some of the transitory things that I was going through, the brain injury, changing from military to civilian life, and many other things. Music completely brought happiness back into my life, and I am extremely thankful for that.”

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