At the Intrepid Spirit centers, one of the many programs offered to help heal our heroes is music therapy. This type of unique alternative therapy has been shown to improve the conditions of service members suffering from traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress.
Music was perhaps first recognized as impactful to the conditions of service members after World War I when there are noted instances of community musicians performing for returning service members which received positive and mood-lifting reactions. However as a formal therapy for service members, music therapy can be traced back to 1945. The U.S. War Department issued Technical Bulletin 187, titled ‘Music in Reconditioning in ASF Convalescent and General Hospitals’. The purpose of this bulletin was “to set forth a program of music in reconditioning and to present methods and techniques of presentation of music to patients convalescing in Army hospitals.” This bulletin describes various ways in which music therapy can benefit service members. It also describes the different types of music therapy which can be used for physical rehabilitation, occupational therapy, education, and recreation. In short, TB 187 showcases how to use music to both heal and enhance the lives of service members.
How does music therapy work? One way is that it can help release chemicals which distract the body from pain & physical discomfort. Music therapy can also help treat memory loss, word recall, and fine motor skills which are all common symptoms of traumatic brain injuries. For example, there are different methods involving percussion rhythms that work to improve sustained, selective, alternating, and divided attention. Music therapy’s connection with memory loss also makes it a common technique used in the treatment of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.
It’s common for anyone to have emotional connections to certain songs that may elicit either positive or negative memories. By focusing on this, music therapists can single out the musics that trigger positive memories and emotions. These emotions help create awareness of the connection between mind and body.
Finally, music helps our service members open up. Music therapy can be conducted in both individual and group sessions. These group sessions allow service members to socialize and collaborate, which can be difficult when suffering the symptoms of TBIs and post-traumatic stress.
Posted on April 9 2018 in Blog