Austere Digital

Art + Fashion + Music + Culture

New Rhythms, New Roads: What Music Therapy Awakens

Feb / 2015 by
Like 0
New Rhythms, New Roads: What Music Therapy Awakens

By Samuel Ford Coronado

 

When a bullet ripped through Gabrielle Giffords’ skull, the former Arizona Congresswoman lost the ability to speak. The injury, called aphasia, meant language pathways in her brain’s left hemisphere were damaged. Doctors treating her recommended she participate in an increasingly popular tool for treating mental and physical trauma: music therapy.

In interviews following Giffords’s recovery, the former Congresswoman could speak one- to two-word sentences, but she surprised many interviewers by singing full sections of songs by The Beatles or from the musical Annie. The brain uses different pathways to process singing and speaking, which makes possible the technique Giffords’ therapists would use for her treatment. Essentially, her therapists trained her to use melody and rhythm in conjunction with words so that her brain might create new pathways around damaged ones to make speech possible. Ten months after the shooting incident and her start in music therapy, the former Congresswoman had, for the second time in her life, learned how to talk.

 

Giffords’s story is remarkable, though only one example of a condition which might be treated with the help of music therapy. Others include dementia, Parkinson’s disease, insomnia, depression, autism, ADHD, and PTSD. In fact, music therapy began gaining status as a legitimate profession in the U.S. when, following World War I and II, musicians would train injured veterans to use music as a way of managing pain perception and PTSD.

But it’s not just specific medical conditions that music helps people to manage. General wellness is something music can have tremendous power over. Stress, blood pressure and mood can be impacted by performing, writing or listening to specific types of music. Some therapists even suggest that women giving birth should tap rhythms with their hands to feel more in control of the situation and their pain.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution for helping individuals use music to cultivate their well-being, treat life-threatening conditions, or recover from trauma. But with an appropriate and considered prescription, there’s no doubt that music can benefit anyone.

 

Illustrations by Molly Ford Coronado.

 

This article was originally printed in August 2014 in Austere Awake.

Related posts

Intimacy, longing and the internet with Molly Soda Intimacy, longing and the internet with Molly Soda
Apr / 2016 by Austere Core
Like 0

“I’m constantly thinking of ways to be closer to you, but all I have is my phone.”

Read More
Editors We Love: Jade Taylor of NYLON Editors We Love: Jade Taylor of NYLON
Apr / 2016 by Austere Team
Like 0

Senior Beauty Editor Jade Taylor talks sharing her life on Snapchat and what it’s really like to work at NYLON.

Read More
Nicole Ruggiero’s 3D, digitally-inspired world Nicole Ruggiero’s 3D, digitally-inspired world
Apr / 2016 by Austere Core
Like 0

#seapunk #witchhouse #postinternet

Read More
Aleia Murawski’s Tiny World Aleia Murawski’s Tiny World
Apr / 2016 by Austere Team
Like 0

Still lifes, snails and amazing fingernails.

Read More
How to be an Art Baby Girl How to be an Art Baby Girl
Apr / 2016 by Austere Core
Like 0

Curator and illustrator Grace Miceli (aka Art Baby Girl) is one of the baddest girls on the internet.

Read More
Shaky Knees Fest // Day 3 Shaky Knees Fest // Day 3
May / 2018 by Garrett Smith
Like 0

Words // Garrett Smith – Photos // Ellie Alonzo & Garrett Smith Alright y’all – it’s finally that time to bid farewell to Shaky Knees once and for all – for this year, at least. Before we go, though, we have one last, grand finale of a day to recap

Read More
Shaky Knees Fest // Day 2 Shaky Knees Fest // Day 2
May / 2018 by Garrett Smith
Like 0

Words // Garrett Smith – Photos // Ellie Alonzo & Garrett Smith We hope you’re rested and ready for a great weekend ahead – both the weekends in your own lives, and the one we’re about to relive at Shaky Knees 2018. Yesterday was amazing, but let’s move past it,

Read More