The healing power of music

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

Playing the ivory keys can soothe your brain.

When someone suffers bodily trauma, they can usually go through physical therapy to strengthen their muscles and exercise their way to health. However, when someone experiences traumatic brain injury – a severe blow to the head that causes brain dysfunction – the steps to health can be less clear cut. Fortunately, one form of rehabilitation that seems more promising than ever is music therapy.

The cool thing about our brain is that it’s divided into several regions that each have a specialized function. When a certain part of the brain is damaged, though, it can have devastating and admittedly interesting effects on our behavior.

For example, there is an area on the left side of our brain that specializes in language. When a person suffers damage to this region, they may have no problem understanding language, but may experience major difficulties forming full sentences and communicating clearly. On the other hand, a person who suffers damage to this area may have no issues forming grammatically sound sentences, but words will have no context whatsoever.

When brain damage has different effects on a person’s behavior, music therapy can be a very effective form of specialized therapy. The beautiful part about music, besides the music itself, is the fact that it activates several different parts of the brain. This means that therapists can create fine-tuned music for individualized therapies that promote a person’s well-being. When someone is asked to sing a song, for example, they have to use the language centers of the brain to remember the words. Listening to music increases attention span and improves memory skills, while also boosting mood! Even playing instruments encourages individuals to be creative and use self expression. If dancing is more your thing, moving to the groove can actually improve fine motor skills and maintain muscle mass!

Music therapy has also been shown to be an effective way to provide stability and predictability in times of confusion and uncertainty. But that much should be obvious; I mean, who doesn’t love a good jam session?