Music Therapy At Texas Children’s Hospital: A Tale Of Two Units
On any given day at Texas Children’s Hospital I can be seen walking the halls or riding the elevators with an array of musical instruments in tow. Whether I am going to the inpatient rehabilitation unit or to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), the guitar strapped to my back provides instant inquiry and comments from others passing by. Most people can identify with music, enjoy music or use music as part of their everyday routine. This is the foundation for music therapy, a purely human connection to sounds, rhythm and beats that make up the music we like.
Every morning children on the inpatient rehabilitation unit participate in intensive therapy sessions to help them recover from a variety of injuries and illnesses. Over the past year and a half music therapy has become part of the team of therapists. Walking is a rhythmic skill and adding specially timed music to a physical therapy session can help a child with the cueing and timing of learning to walk. Using breathing and singing techniques alongside a speech therapist can help a child learn how to use their voice again by encouraging them to sing a familiar song. These are just a few examples of how music therapy is changing the experience of children on the inpatient rehabilitation unit.
The neonatal intensive care unit at Texas Children’s Hospital cares for the sickest and most critical infants in the area. In such a fragile environment music therapy taps into the natural inclination of parents wanting to sing lullabies to their infant. Before a parent can hold or participate in “typical” parenting tasks, they can sing to their baby. Every day I encourage parents to sing to their baby and help them write personalized lullabies that become part of the infant/parent bonding routine. A parent singing to his or her infant throughout hospitalization is one of the most important and beneficial interactions they can provide to their baby.
It is a true joy for me to come to work every day to provide music therapy to patients and families at Texas Children’s Hospital. I love when children get excited about experiencing a new instrument and I will never become tired of seeing parents sing to their fragile newborn in the NICU. Every day is different keeping up with music styles and preferences but I would not change my role for anything.
Learn more about music therapy, here.