Music therapy for people living with Huntington’s Disease

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The Pixel Fund has generously supported music therapy for people living with Huntington’s Disease at the Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability. Huntington’s Disease is an inherited, degenerative, neurological condition which causes damage to nerve cells in the brain and can affect movement, cognition (perception, awareness, thinking, judgement) and behaviour. There is no cure for Huntington’s Disease however recent research at the RHN has focused on the potential of therapies such as music therapy and therapeutic gardening to help maintain cognitive skills and to improve emotional wellbeing.

Music therapy is an important part of the rehabilitation and care at the RHN, which works to meet physical, emotional, social and communication needs. Music therapists are part of the multi-disciplinary team, so music therapists works alongside the other therapy professionals such as physiotherapists, psychologists and occupational therapists.

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Our trained music therapists provide therapeutic stimulation for patients in groups and on a 1:1 basis. They make use of technologies and assessment tools developed at the RHN including MATA HD which has been shown to be a reliable measure of communication, cognition, emotion/mood, and social behaviour for people with Huntington’s disease. There are many benefits of music therapy: Playing and listening to music can help patients improve attention, memory and problem solving by use of specific musical activities; music therapy can aid in developing or maintaining physical strength, balance, movement and coordination using rhythmic patterns; and music therapy can enable people to express the complex emotions associated with severe brain injury or illness.

With the support of The Pixel Fund we have been able to offer group music therapy sessions on Wolfson Ward. The group meets once a week and is focused on the specific needs of people with Huntington’s Disease. Music Therapy can make a huge difference for people like Sally, a resident in Wolfson Ward (pictured above), who regularly attends the sessions. The music therapy service at the RHN is entirely dependent on voluntary donations and so without the support of The Pixel Fund, and other generous supporters, we could not continue to offer this life-changing therapy for people living with Huntington’s Disease and other neurological illness or injury.

On behalf of the Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability