HealthSouth Erie Gets Patients Moving with Music Therapy


Music Therapy

At HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital of Erie, patients are experiencing a fun and interactive therapy technique. Through a partnership with Lake Erie Music Therapy, the hospital is using music therapy to motivate patients and help them move more efficiently. In conjunction with traditional physical, occupational and/or speech therapy, music therapy can be adapted to each patient’s rehabilitation plan and therapeutic needs to help them reach their individual goals.

“Music therapy is so successful because of the proximity and relationship between the brain’s auditory and motor cortices,” said Brittany Barko, MT – BC, NMT, board-certified music therapist.  “In occupational therapy, playing a xylophone aids in fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. In physical therapy, doing seated exercises in rhythm to patient-preferred music assists in strengthening and control of the patients’ core muscles.”

Barko tailors the music to the current exercise or movement the patient is trying to accomplish, starting the music at a slow pace in order for a patient to move in time with music and increasing the beat over time. She incorporates singing for stroke or brain injury patients who may have difficulty speaking. 

“This is effective because singing is a full brain experience, where language is primarily a left-brain task,” said Barko. “Teaching a patient with a brain injury to sing their address may help them remember it better versus asking them to simply speak it. This is due to the rhythmic and naturally repetitive nature of music.”

HealthSouth Erie Physical Therapist Deborah Alexander says music therapy motivates patients to work harder.

“It provides them with additional endurance which helps them develop quality movements in therapy,” said Alexander. “When the music is playing they want to continue their therapy longer and look forward to the next therapy session. They laugh and often do not mention any aches or pains, exhibit better posture, take larger strides and climb further up the steps. Overall, patients function better when the music therapy is combined with their physical or occupational therapy regimen.”

To learn more about inpatient rehabilitation programs at HealthSouth Erie, visit or call 814-878-1200.

Source: HealthSouth

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Holli Wolfe

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Holli Wolfe

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