The Utilization of Music With Patients with Aphasia: Part One

The Utilization of Music With Patients with Aphasia: Part One
By Nuance Crusaders by Mark R. Baldridge, #nuance4health,
Tuesday, March 17, 2020

“Aphasia is a disorder that results from damage to portions of the brain that are responsible for language. Aphasia usually occurs suddenly, often following a stroke or head injury, but it may also develop slowly, as the result of a brain tumor or a progressive neurological disease. The disorder impairs the expression and understanding of language as well as reading and writing.” (NIH, 2015; Gottfried et. al. 2008).
         The problem: As the neural processes that underline the post-stroke language recovery remain unknown, it has not been possible to effectively target them using specific therapies” (Gottfried et. al. 2008). To improve treatment, research has to continue utilizing functional imaging, mostly positron emission tomography (PET). PET is an imaging test (or scan) that helps reveal how tissues and organs are functioning (Mayo Clinic). As a result, treatment is impaired; the therapist can either emphasize the preserved language on the left hemisphere or the right hemisphere to compensate for the loss of the language network (Gottfried et. al. 2008).
To overcome this obstacle, the therapist can utilize a treatment that is able to engage both hemispheres, Melodic Intonation Therapy (MIT). This is an accepted practice that “uses the musical elements of speech (melody & rhythm) to improve expressive language by capitalizing on preserved function (singing) and engaging language-capable regions in the undamaged right hemisphere” (Norton Et. Al., 2009). In this treatment, the patient can indicate either pitch variation or rhythmic features while tapping with the left hand on each syllable. In terms of my compositions, one that could be applicable for this treatment is Brazilian Fantasy, because the composition consists of both rhythm and lyrics. The lyrics, written by Andrea Litzenberger, are important because they are positive and upbeat.

Nuance Crusaders by Mark R. Baldridge,

Gottfried Schlaug, Sarah Marchina, and Andrea Norton. From Singing to Speaking: Why Singing May Lead to Recovery of Expressive Language Function in Patients with Broca’s Aphasia, NIH public Access. Music Percept. 2008. April 1;25(4): 315-323. doi:10,1525/MP.2008:25,4,315

Mayo Clinic. Positrom emission tomography scan.


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