Source: Your Magazine
Since the January 8th shooting of Gabrielle Giffords, there has been a surge in media coverage on her rehabilitation. The focus has been on her use of music therapy, a field that has grown in popularity over the last decade. ABC News reporter Bob Woodruff aired a segment [ Facing Rehab: Exhaustion, Exhilaration and Love ] several weeks back in which he called music therapy a “new high-tech” treatment for rehabilitation patients. »View here. As hospitals and therapists in greater numbers have began offering and recommending music therapy, many questions remain; what exactly is music therapy, and does it work?
We caught up with local North Park resident Rebecca Vaudreuil, a board-certified music therapist with a specialty in neurologic music therapy, whose book, »“Working in Neurologic Rehabilitation” was released last year and who has been featured in an article in Therapy Times, after she traveled to Japan and Africa to provide music therapy services in schools and orphanages, to find out exactly what all the buzz is about.
YM: So, Rebecca, first off, can you describe what music therapy is?
RV: Music therapy covers a wide spectrum of treatment. Basically, we help clients reach non-musical goals through a musical medium; music is used as a catalyst to neurological and physiological change. The work is based on the idea of overlapping neural networks. The musical and non-musical pathways overlap each other, so when the non-musical route is damaged, we can use music to access and reactivate those areas to facilitate rehabilitation. Music theraphy helps to enhance the clients response to traditional therapies, and is often used in conjunction with other treatments and interventions across a diversity of fields and conditions.
YM: What attracted you to music therapy in the first place?
RV: Originally, I’m from Massachusetts, and I have always been passionate about music. When I was touring the Berklee College of Music in Boston, I fell in love with the program they had developed, and knew that was what I wanted to do. I began the program there, and after graduating with a Bachelor of Music in Music Therapy, I have been working in the field ever since.
YM: What types injuries, illnesses, or issues does music therapy work best with?
RV: One of the great things about music therapy is that is has so many applications across a wide range of issues. Specifically music theraphy is used to improve sensorimotor skills, such as gross and fine coordination of the hands, fingers, arms, and legs; speech and language production in forming meaningful words and sentences along with communication using body language and comprehending speech; cognition, by reinforcing learning and memory; behavior by improving attention, focus, and multi-tasking; and a variety of mood disorders and psychological issues by reducing pain and anxiety. It is incorperative, so it is used in a wide range of settings: in hospitals and rehabilitation centers, in therapists and psychological practices, and can be done individually, in groups, and can work in conjunction with other specialists and treatments or independently.
YM: How would someone find a music therapist or know if they need one?
RV: Many hospitals in the area offer it now, there are offices in Scripps La Jolla and the Navy-Medical Center that patients would be referred or directed to. We receive a lot of therapists, psychologists, and pathologist referrals as well. There are private companies, such as »MusicWorx, and non-profit organizations, such as »Resounding Joy.