Music Heals Brain injury

Music is an extraordinary tool proven by numerous studies as having a great potential to heal the brain after a traumatic injury.

Enjoying music is said to be one of the best form of mental exercise. Music affects us in a profound way. With new research findings, we come to realize that the effect of music goes beyond lifting the mood of the present moment. Various imaging techniques reveal that music can literally change brain structures.

Music Heals Brain injury
Music Heals

@healthbiztips by Arlene Gentallan

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) or damage caused to the brain by traumatic physical force can have devastating consequences like loss of the ability to properly move a body part, difficulty speaking, and trouble learning.

Brain damage was previously thought of as irreversible, but new discoveries have lead us to a better understanding of "neuroplasticity"', that is, the brain can change and adapt. The brain has the capacity to restore itself. Lost functions can be recovered to a great extent.

How can the brain heal itself after an injury?

Music is a poweful tool to rewire the brain.

Music activates various areas of the brain which are not just limited to processing music, but are also responsible for important functions like body movement, language control, perception, and memory.

Take for instance when a person undergoes training to learn piano, areas of the brain responsible for controlling hand movement and coordination also becomes more efficient. In people with brain injury, music training can result to better control of body movement.

Actively engaging in music like learning how to play a piano or a violin changes the brain. Certain regions of the brain enlarge after a long period of musical instrument training. These areas become more efficient, not only in playing music, but also in performing a specific task that requires the activation of these areas.

In one study, researchers synchronize walking with music rhythm among patients afflicted with stroke and Parkinson's disease. The result proves that application of music can be superior to physical therapy in delivering better recovery. Patients were able to walk faster with better control of limb movement.

Another instance of "neuroplasticity" is observed in a person whose broca's area (part of the left hemisphere of the brain) has been damage. Through music therapy, the individual was able to regain as much language function because the right hemisphere of the brain takes over to compensate for the lost function of the left hemisphere.

Music Therapy

Music therapy is the use of music as a tool to restore or improve a specific condition like restoring lost body function brought about by neurologic damage to improve quality of life. Music therapy is facilitated by a trained and certified music therapist.

Music therapy could either be active or passive. Active music therapy is when the individual undergoing therapy directly engages in creating music. In passive music therapy, the individual passively listens to music.

Recent studies demonstrate that active music therapy is superior than passive music therapy.

Music Heals

When you engage in music, did it cross your mind that its' effect on you goes far beyond the moment. It can leave a lasting effect both on your physical and mental state. We are just beginning to understand how this extraordinary tool can heal the brain itself.

The application of music as a form of treatment has promising outcomes like improvement in physical movement, posture, speech, memory, and senses. Engaging in music boosts emotional health and improves coping ability by reducing anxiety and depression.

Studies reveal that listening or direct engagement in music results in physiologic changes in the body like improvement of blood flow to the brain. Music also alters blood pressure, heart rate, and respiratory rate. It elicits biochemical alteration like decrease in stress hormone cortisol, and increase in the neurotransmitter serotonin which gives us the feeling of satisfaction.

Music is indeed an extraordinary form of human expression that can heal both the body and mind. It taps into our physical and emotional being, sets the mood, and initiates change.


Hegde, S. (2014). Music-Based Cognitive Remediation Therapy for Patients with Traumatic Brain Injury. Frontiers in Neurology, 5, 34.

Altenm├╝ller, E., & Schlaug, G. (2015). Apollo’s gift: new aspects of neurologic music therapy. Progress in Brain Research, 217, 237–252.

Schlaug, G. (2015). Musicians and music making as a model for the study of brain plasticity. Progress in Brain Research, 217, 37–55.

Thaut, M., & McIntosh, G. (2010). How Music Helps to Heal the Injured Brain: Therapeutic Use Crescendos Thanks to Advances in Brain Science. Cerebrum.



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