Music Helps People with Brain Injuries

POSTED: Monday, October 26, 2009 - 8:05am

UPDATED: Thursday, June 3, 2010 - 11:59pm

We dance to it, relax to it and sing to it. But music -- as it turns out -- can also be used to help rehabilate those with brain injuries and illnesses. Stroke victim Sally Withers has had one wish for nine years -- more movement. She took that wish to a therapy class at Colorado State University.

But this class isn't like others -- it's all music, all the time. Withers said, "it gets into your brain." Colorado State professor Dr. Michael Thaut says that's exactly what it does. "We started researching that about 20 years ago."

Test after test showed Thaut that -- when it comes to movement -- music provides more than just motivation. "The idea is we use music as a big clock function from the outside that gives a steady pulse and steady pattern that synchronizes the movement and the patient can calibrate their movement to that big sensory timer," said Dr. Thaut. Rhythmic auditory stimulation -- that's what it's called. And therapists across the country have found success with it.

"I can tell that I'm getting better," said Withers. As for Withers, she's happy to move to the beat of a different therapy. "When I'm walking by myself now I usually have a tune going in my head," she said.