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Neurologic Music Therapy

What is Neurologic Music Therapy?

According to the Academy of Neurologic Music Therapy "Neurologic Music Therapy (NMT) is a research-based system of 20 standardized clinical techniques for sensorimotor training, speech and language training, and cognitive training. It’s treatment techniques are based on the scientific knowledge in music perception and production and

the effects thereof on nonmusical brain and behavior functions. Populations served by Neurologic Music Therapists include, but are not limited to: stroke, traumatic brain injury, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease, cerebral palsy, Alzheimer’s disease, autism, and other neurological diseases affecting cognition, movement, and communication (e.g., MS, Muscular Dystrophy, etc). NMT encompasses neurologic rehabilitation, neuropediatric, neuropsychiatric, neurogeriatric, and neurodevelopmental therapy. Therapeutic goals and interventions address rehabilitation, development, and maintenance of functional behaviors (Thaut,2015)."

Music and the Brain

NMT utilizes different aspects of music to optimize the rehabilitation process for those affected by neurologic disorders or diseases. The most important component of music that is used is rhythm. Recent research has found that we are capable to detect a beat, pulse or rhythm in music from the time that we are born. It is an innate ability that humans have the allows music the be used as an extremely effective means for neurologic rehabilitation. The human brain is a pattern-seeking,

feed-forward organ, meaning that once the brain detects a pattern, it will automatically anticipate that pattern. Music is a structured form that is set up in divisions of time, that allows the brain to easily entrain to the music and optimizes functional rehabilitation for movement, cognition, and speech and language.

Another component of music that enhances the rehab process is melody. The use of melody, along with rhythm, allows for multiple engagement processes. In the NMT technique Melodic Intonation Therapy (MIT), melody is used in conjunction with a steady rhythm to address functional speech production. It allows the brain to access secondary neural pathways to regain speech in those who have suffered brain injuries, such as a stroke or TBI.

Neuro Facts

The following facts of based on U.S.:

  • Each year approximately 795,000 people suffer strokes. About 610,000 are first time strokes and the remaining 185,000 are recurrent attacks.

  • 5,300,000 people suffer from Alzheimer's  disease annually. 

  • 1,000,000 people are diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.

  • 1 in 68 8 year olds are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

  • 764,000 people are afflicted by Cerebral Palsy each year.

  • 350,000 people suffer from Multiple Sclerosis. 

  • Each year 30,000 people are diagnosed with Huntington's Disease.

  • Approximately $28 Billion is spent each year on outpatient rehabilitation.

  • In a cost-benefit analysis of hospice patients receiving music therapy services, it was found that costs were reduced by $2984 per patient, which was a cost-per-patient-day ratio of .95.

  • "NMT is effective for neurorestoration therapy in real world situations and for neuroplasticity." (Bringas, et al.)


The above statistics were provided from OHSU Brain Institute, CDC, WHO, Stroke Center, and Frontiers in Neuroscience.

Neuro Facts
Music and the Brain
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