More than Music: The Positive Effects of Music Therapy on Neuromuscular Disorders


What would you do if you knew that there was a way to make the lives of thousands instantly better? The thing that I am speaking about is music therapy. The concept has been around since the days of Plato and Aristotle, however, the idea of music therapists evolved shortly after the start of World War I. Music therapy’s popularity has grown significantly as our technological society had been continuously evolving. Although the therapy can help people struggling with many ailments, it is found to be particularly useful in the treatment of patients with neuromuscular disorders.

According to Toshin Go, a neuromuscular disorder is a condition which causes someone to experience difficulty with the proper function of their nervous system, or muscles. There are many of these disorders in existence, but two that have reacted extremely well to music therapy are Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, and Cerebral Palsy. Author Amelia Oldfield argues that music therapy can be utilized for both physical and emotional healing. Since Cerebral Palsy and ALS are both very serious illnesses, the patients may have more than just physical damage done to them. Music therapy has been said to make practically all of the patients treated happier.

My cousin, Stephanie, can most certainly support Amelia Oldfield’s research. Stephanie is 19 years old and has been attending music therapy sessions for five years now. Having Cerebral Palsy, Stephanie has a limited range of motion and poor reflexes. However, she has improved leaps and bounds from when she first began her therapy. Now, she can play a version of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” and various other songs on the piano. Going to her music therapy session once per week has not only improved her physical abilities, but it has improved her state of being. When I sat down with her in a face-to-face interview, she said that going to music therapy made her feel “delighted.”
People with Cerebral Palsy are not the only ones to find joy from music therapy sessions. Those living with ALS experience the same feelings of happiness as well. According to Bryan Kuhn, ALS patients are given between two to five years to live upon their diagnosis. This is why it is imperative for them to not only receive quality therapy, but to also have fun at the same time.
Music therapy is something that needs to be embraced in today’s modern society. It is particularly useful when it comes to neuromuscular disorders, because it improves common respiratory issues, reflexes, communication between patients and caregivers, and patient morale. Since there are over 1 million people in the United States alone being affected by neuromuscular disorders, action needs to be taken. If more patients had better information regarding music therapy, the quality of life for people with neuromuscular diseases would be much more superior as a whole. The success stories of the victims are tremendous, and fortunately, they are only the beginning. As technology progresses, it is the hope that greater amounts of people will discover the wonders of music therapy and all that it does for its participants.



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