How Does A Speech-Language Pathologist Help Child With Communication Disorders Benefits Of Music Therapy

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Benefits Of Music Therapy

Music therapy uses music to promote positive changes in an individual’s well-being. These positive changes can be manifested in changes in physical development, social and interpersonal development, emotional or spiritual well-being or cognitive abilities.

The therapeutic benefits of music have been known and exploited since ancient times. However, music therapy in modern times dates back to the World War when music was used in hospitals in the rehabilitation and recovery of soldiers who had suffered physical or emotional trauma. The University of Kansas was the first University in the United States to offer a degree program in music therapy in 1944.

Early exponents of music therapy in the 1950s and 1970s included the French cellist Juliet Alvin and Paul Nordoff and Clive Robbins. The Nordoff-Robbins approach is still used in many countries around the world including USA, UK, Australia, Germany and South Africa.

So, how does music therapy work?

Music is universal and connects across language barriers. Most people can respond to music in some way, regardless of illness or disability.

Music has an inherent ability to generate an emotional response in the listener. It stimulates a relaxation response that can then lead to physiological changes in the body. Music is known to reduce stress, which produces related benefits such as lower blood pressure, improved breathing, reduced heart rate, improved cardiac performance, and reduced muscle tension.

Music is processed in both hemispheres of the brain and this stimulation has been shown to help the development of language and speech functions. It promotes socialization and the development of communication, self-expression and motor skills. Children and adults with autism spectrum disorder have been found to respond very positively to music and many of them show high levels of musical skills.

Music fosters verbal and non-verbal communication and promotes social interaction and relationship. It is a valuable outlet for expression and creativity. It has also been successfully used in pain management, providing a distraction from the painful stimulus, as well as a means of relaxation and stress relief.

Children with developmental and learning difficulties, children and adults with autism spectrum disorder or special needs, as well as the elderly and dementia sufferers have all been shown to benefit from music therapy. Although the benefits of music therapy have been accepted intuitively and based on anecdotal evidence, it was not until recently that quantitative evidence of its effectiveness began to emerge.

In a recent study conducted by the University of Miami School of Medicine, blood samples from a group of male Alzheimer’s patients who were treated with music therapy were found to have significantly elevated levels of melatonin, epinephrine and norepinephrine, which are chemicals which act on the brain. controlling mood, depression, aggression and sleep. The benefits of the therapy were still evident even six weeks after the cessation of the therapy and in the case of melatonin the effects persist even longer.

Music therapy is gaining wider acceptance in the general medical community and has certainly stood the test of time. Music therapists can now be found in a variety of institutions dealing with mental health, developmental and early intervention programs, correctional institutions and special education programs to name a few. Many are having success where traditional treatment methods have failed.

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