Background There are several explanations why music has a positive influence on verbal communication. It is known that the brain systems underlying to music are shared with other functions such as speech. Evidence suggests that music may activate these systems in a different way than speech or other stimuli and enhances the way these systems work together. Huntington Speech Music Therapy (HSMT), based on the principles of Speech Music Therapy for Aphasia (a treatment program for people with aphasia and/or verbal apraxia), focuses on improving articulation and clarity of speaking; improving use of voice, volume of speaking, breathing and tempo, improving the fluency of speaking; and stimulating/activating the ability to speak.
Case history In a joint session, the speech therapist and music therapist offer patients with Huntington’s disease (HD) the HSMT program. The speech therapist instructs patients to perform words and sentences accompanied by structured, repeating short melodies. The music therapist plays these melodies on the piano. By continuously using the same melodic lines the music provides structure, which facilitates production and reproduction of language. HSMT therapy turns out to be very valuable for our HD patients. One patient stated: “When I participate in the therapy there is enough time and quietness and I feel at ease. I can practice and prepare for difficult and complex conversations. It helps me to structure the information. In daily life I don’t speak much anymore but during this therapy I feel stimulated to talk.”
Conclusions HSMT improves speech and communication of HD patients during treatment.
- Speech Therapist
- Music Therapist
- Speech and Communication
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