By Christine Whitmarsh, RN, BSN
All types of rehabilitation therapists, including traveling physical therapists, travel occupational therapists and traveling speech language pathologists, are integral in the care of special needs children. Music therapy is a form of rehab treatments that is often used in conjunction with occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech language pathology. When music therapy is included as a component of existing treatments, the results often speak for themselves.
Communication and social interaction skills are improved, often because of the similarities and speaking and singing, one part of music therapy. This component of therapy also aids the child’s long term memory retention, since an interested, attentive child learns new skills better. Music therapy benefits the special need child’s motor abilities, since rhythm is correlated to movement and coordination. Utilizing recorded music as a part of rehab therapy also promotes relaxation and decreases muscle tension, making treatment easier for therapist and patient.
The first undergraduate degree program in the U.S. came into being in 1944 at Michigan State University. A degree in music therapy typically requires a therapist to become proficient in guitar, piano, voice, music theory and history, reading music along with a conventional health care and rehab therapy foundation. Music therapy has been known to benefit special need children with autism, brain injuries, Down syndrome, and children with significant developmental delays.
Physical therapist careers and occupational therapist careers working in music therapy are responsible for assessing each individual patients and designing a treatment plan that uses the best methods, whether listening to music, singing, playing or all three, that meet each patient’s objectives.
Christine Whitmarsh is a Registered Nurse with a BSN from the University of Rhode Island. She is a freelance health journalist and medical writer and a contributor to Travel Nurse Source and Allied Travel Careers.