Music Therapy at the Victoria Brain Injury Society (VBIS) is offered twice a week for 60 minutes per session. Music Therapist Carmen has built strong bonds with clients, many who have participated for as long as the program has been running. During COVID-19 they were pleased to be able to offer the program online via Zoom and did not see a difference in attendance, which shows just how valuable this program is.
The Music Therapy Program at VBIS provides brain injury survivors with the opportunity to access an alternative method of rehabilitation. The music therapist uses music and clinical interventions to help clients improve, maintain, and restore an optimal state of well-being. Researchers are discovering that music functions use many of the same brain pathways as motor functions, speech and language processing functions and cognitive functions. Because of this, music therapists are able to participate, and be an important part of rehabilitation in individuals with brain injuries. Music therapy also has the unique opportunity to focus on the client as a whole person with many abilities and strengths. This program provides clients with positive, successful experiences that focus on their abilities, which improves self-esteem and motivation.
VBIS provides services for brain injury survivors
This past year Music Therapist Carmen obtained a certified clinical counselling accreditation. Combined with her extensive experience as a Music Therapist, the designation as clinical counsellor allows her to connect with clients in a deeper way and recognize any additional mental health needs with clients attending the Music Therapy program, therefore providing a more robust program for survivors of brain injury.
Navigating The Ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic
VBIS is now able to offer the Music Therapy program in-person, which is the preferred method for clients in this program. They follow strict safety protocols and require all attendees to wear masks when they enter common spaces, which are changed to face shields during the music therapy sessions. They are fortunate to have a very large space to offer this program, and are able to maintain physical distance and open windows and doors to assist with fresh air circulation. After each session all surfaces are disinfected. By following these protocols they are able to provide as normal a Music Therapy session as possible.
Adopting this program will sustain current Music Therapy programming at VIBS. Music Therapy serves brain injury survivors by assisting them to improve their musical ability, and provides additional beneficial outcomes such as:
• Improved musical ability leading to improved motor functions;
• Improved speech and language processing functions;
• Improved memory function through practicing and retaining songs;
• Improvements in fine and gross motor skills;
• Reduced sound sensitivity which is common after a brain injury;
• Reduced isolation;
• Increased group bonding and therefore increased natural supports;
• Increased self-esteem from having practiced and improved a skill.
“My name is Janet Mathieson and I’ve been a member of the Victoria Brain Injury Society (VBIS) since 2014 when I acquired a brain injury. Initially I attended programs at VBIS and used the space as a place to rest while downtown running errands. As time went on I forgot about the different programs and drifted away as my life got busy. I always attended the open houses as a way to connect with the awesome people who work and volunteer there. I continued to periodically show up at VBIS looking for respite from the hustle of downtown Victoria.
One day, about four years ago, I stopped into VBIS in a “flooded state,” desperately needing a place to rest and was given the “blue room” as it was empty at the time. I could hear people playing and singing music and just couldn’t resist dropping into their session. Before I went in the room I was what I call “wasted tired”. I joined in on a few songs and when the session was over I felt completely rejuvenated. It was like going from a 1 to a 10 in energy level.
Again time went by and I forgot about the VBIS music program (did I mention I have a brain injury?) In the spring of 2019 I happened to show up at VBIS on a Tuesday afternoon looking for respite from the world and again I heard music. This time I knew exactly what was going on and where I was going to get my rest from the world.
I’ve been attending the music program nearly every week since then, including virtually for the past year and a half. It has spurred me on to write a blues song about having a “Busted Brain” and the VBIS music group, “The Forget Me Notes,” performed it at the last summer picnic to much applause and calls for an encore.
When I was first recovering from my acquired brain injury music was not possible in my life. I would get confused and lose my ability to speak. Now with the help of the VBIS music program, and the African Djembe classes I’m taking elsewhere, I have been able to add music back into my daily life. I can have the radio playing in the vehicle I’m driving, and I no longer have to wear my earplugs at every public location or function. I realize this may also be due to the passing of time since my crash, but I think a good portion of it can be attributed to my drumming and singing. So in conclusion I say thank you to the generous people and organizations who help fund the VBIS music program and fervently hope you see fit to continue doing so. It does make a difference!”