Mar 19

Neurologic Music Therapy

At their March meeting, the Ombudsman volunteers welcomed Kirsten Stockel, MT-BC, NMT, from MedRhythms Therapy for a presentation about the benefits of Neurologic Music Therapy (NMT). NMT is used in the rehabilitation of neurologic injury and disease and has been found to be especially helpful for traumatic brain injury, stroke and Parkinson’s disease.  Some Neurologic Music Therapists lead groups at nursing homes on a regular basis for residents, and also work individually with clients of all ages in a variety of settings.  Stockel explained that the therapy uses music not for the goal of music but rather to carry over into the functions of daily living.  According to research validated by MRIs, listening to music and playing rhythm instruments activate multiple areas of the brain and this activation can be useful in many ways that aid function.

NMT can be used for motor, speech, language and cognitive rehabilitation. Stockel demonstrated that after an illness or injury, walking skills can be improved by using NMT techniques. Auditory rhythm primes the motor system to be ready to move. In other situations, an individual’s speech may be impaired while their ability to sing is not damaged. Melodic Intonation Therapy translates functional sentences into melodies or chants and this process aids in the rehabilitation of language. In addition, memory skills can be enhanced with music because music captures attention and focus.

An Ombudsman is a trained volunteer who informs people living in rest homes and nursing homes about their rights, and works to improve the quality of care that residents receive. Ombudsmen are initially trained by the State Ombudsman office of the Executive Office of Elder Affairs in Massachusetts, and they also receive on-site training at the facilities where they will work. The Neurologic Music Therapy presentation is an example of different topics covered in the monthly volunteer Ombudsman meetings. Continuing education helps the Ombudsmen be informed about new therapies, services or other related topics, so they can effectively advocate for nursing home residents.

Springwell will be hosting training for Ombudsmen in early May.  If you are interested in becoming an Ombudsman, please contact Lisa Palais, LTC Ombudsman Program Manager at 617-972-5644 or