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Music Interventions

  • NMH Music Intervention. This program provides support to patients admitted in the Northwestern Memorial Hospital neurosciences unit. In summer 2020, we piloted a daily program providing psychological first aid for admitted patients who were affected by COVID-19 isolation. Thirty-minute demographically sensitive individualized music sessions were offered to patients with different neurological diagnoses. Results were very positive based on patient feedback and were widely covered by the media. Results are published in Frontiers in Neurology.
  • Clinically Designed Improvisatory Music. Designed during the COVID-19 pandemic, this receptive intervention possesses two key attributes: for one, it uses strict parameters for rhythm, tempo, range, dynamics, timbre and silence, and second, it is live and implemented by a clinically trained musician. Social presence and engagement contribute to decreased anxiety, agitation and feelings of loneliness. See our article published in Frontiers in Neurology for more details.
  • Collaboration with Institute for Therapy through the Arts (ITA): Musical Bridges to Memory. Musical Bridges to Memory (MBM) is a program consisting of music played by a chamber ensemble together with caregiver training to enhance social engagement and reduce psychiatric symptoms in patients with dementia. Our pilot results show significant change in the relationship between the person with dementia and their care partners as well as reduced negative psychiatric symptoms. See our abstract presented at the Alzheimer’s Association conference in 2020.
  • Melodic Intonation Therapy. Melodic intonation therapy is a rehabilitation intervention for individuals with language impairment (aphasia) whose singing ability remains intact. Phrases are practiced in intoned form for many sessions. Many studies have shown the efficacy of this method for recovery from non-fluent aphasia. See Bonakdarpour et al., 2003.
  • Staff Well-Being Program. We collaborated with Northwestern Medicine’s physician well-being program in building a Recuperation Room for physicians for whom we provided restorative music. Restorative music comprises a set of recordings that have been clinically proven to reduce blood pressure and heart rate and induce a feeling of calmness. We also have provided this intervention for Neurology Department staff.
  • Dementia Concerts/Memory Café. Designed as life-enrichment programs for individuals with dementia, these concerts brought music to patients during the COVID-19 pandemic when in-person concerns were not available. Musicians featured in these programs included members of the Civitas Ensemble and Chicago Symphony Orchestra.  
  • Musical Museum. The Musical Museum is a dementia-informed life-enrichment program featuring musical performances intertwined with commentary and discussion around sound, music and poetry. The program takes care to acknowledge intellectual and social needs of this stage of life.

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