Music helps us heal in countless ways. Our favorite songs lift our spirits, regardless of the challenges we are facing that day. For lifelong performers—even those who only sing in the shower—music is both a treatment and a goal during rehabilitation. The right song can give us the motivation to race one more mile—or to take just one more step.
At Spaulding, music plays a role in our approach to caring not just for the patient, but for the whole person.
For Anish Desouza, neurologic music therapy helped in his incredible recovery from a gym accident that left him with a traumatic brain injury and in a coma for weeks. When Anish came to Spaulding Hospital Cambridge, he was unable to move or speak. Anish’s family mentioned to his care team that he played guitar—and from there, the transformation began.
While physical and occupational therapists worked hard to strengthen Anish’s limbs, his music therapist started with exercises to build attention and focus, from relearning to press a single bell to producing musical patterns on a set of color-coded bells. After six weeks of concerted effort Anish was standing again, and strumming a guitar held by his therapist to practice balance.
The prognosis had been that Anish might be bedridden for life, but one year after his accident, Anish was back at work as a chemical engineer—and practicing the guitar again daily.
For people recovering from stroke, traumatic brain injury, and other conditions, neurologic music therapy helps restore neural pathways using musical rhythms—like helping someone gain steadiness to walk, guided by the strum of a guitar. This therapy can lead to profound physical outcomes and emotional ones, too.
“We see this treatment bring so much healing not only to patients, but also to families and other caregivers,” says Brian Harris, therapist and founder of MedRhythms—Spaulding’s partner in delivering the most comprehensive neurologic music therapy program in the country. It is certainly true in Anish’s case, whose mother Anita notes that, “When Anish started with the bells, we finally knew he was able to comprehend—even when he couldn’t speak and barely move. We felt the difference.”
Imagine the Possibilities
An investment in rehabilitation medicine has never been more necessary — or more promising.
Your gift to Spaulding can make new realities possible, starting now.