Music Therapy with Disorders of Consciousness: Insights from Neurophysiological and Behavioral Study

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Distinguishing between vegetative state (VS), where there are no indications of consciousness despite wakefulness, and minimally conscious state (MCS), is a challenging process. To address the lack of evidence supporting music therapy assessment, healthy (n:20), VS(n:12) and MCS (n:9) responses to music therapy and contrasting auditory stimuli were compared within neurophysiological (EEG, heart and respiration rate, heart and respiration rate variability) and behavioral measures. Significant findings across measures, including indications of arousal and selective attention in vegetative state patients will be discussed. Implications for the development of evidence based music therapy in the assessment and rehabilitation of this population will be explored.

Learner Objectives:

1. Participants will be able to identify at least two ways as to how neurophysiological measures such as EEG may develop our understanding of music therapy with ‘non responsive’ populations¬†(CBMT Scope of Practice: III. B. 1. 2. 5. 7)

About Julian O’Kelly, MSc, Dip MT, NMT, BA (Hons):

Julian began work as a clinician piloting a music therapy service for Rowcroft Hospice in South Devon, whilst helping the Towersey Foundation set up palliative care posts across the UK .He has published numerous papers, and regularly presents at international conferences and symposia. Following the appointment as Head of Music Therapy at the Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability, he was awarded a PhD Mobility Fellowship with Aalborg University in 2010. His PhD study is focused on developing the evidence base for music therapy in the assessment and rehabilitation of those with disorders of consciousness.