empowering the severely brain injured and their families via support, understanding and a network of care

Music Therapy

Music therapy is the planned and intentional use of music to achieve goals to meet the individual clinical needs of the person with a brain injury. Goal areas may include improving a persons physical abilities, communication & social interaction, cognition, behaviour and emotional expression. Music therapists work as part of the interdisciplinary team alongside other health professions. Music therapists have a high level of musicianship and are clinically trained and undergo training at a master’s level.  Music Therapists are registered with the Health and Care and Professions Council (HCPC).

What can music therapists offer to people with disorders of consciousness?

Music therapists help in the assessment of awareness using the Music Therapy Assessment Tool for Awareness in Disorders of Consciousness (MATADOC) a standardised assessment tool that was developed by Dr Wendy Magee and Dr Barbara Daveson, former music therapists at the Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability.  The MATADOC contributes to interdisciplinary assessment of awareness, the diagnosis and person’s rehabilitation goals.

Using the MATADOC music therapists assess visual, auditory, motor, communication and arousal responses to a number of stimuli; including familiar and unfamiliar, simple and complex auditory and visual stimuli incorporating the use of a variety of musical instruments. The assessment tool helps provide baseline and ongoing measure of responses and determines active purposeful responses. Music therapists gain a detailed picture of responses to auditory stimuli which helps with treatment planning and a plan with recommendations for managing the person’s auditory environment.

Following the MATADOC assessment music therapists make recommendations based on the assessment findings to families about how they might use music to address and enhance quality of life for their loved one. Recommendations can be made for use of music as part of a controlled environment and music as part of shared leisure activities. This can help families feel involved in their relative’s care.

People with disorders of consciousness may be seen in individual music therapy sessions and/or in group sessions.  Group sessions aim to monitor for changes in the person’s presentation when they hear different types of familiar and unfamiliar musical stimuli and a variety of musical instruments. Music therapists can facilitate a meaningful shared experience for each person with the brain injury and their families.

Eirini Alexiou, Senior Music Therapist

HCPC registered, PG-Dip. Music Therapy, F-NMT, BA Music