When Jared Lee Loughner shot a bullet through the left side of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Gifford's head in January, it damaged parts of her brain. She lost the ability to speak or move the right side of her body. But through intensive physical therapy, she is regaining both abilities -- and music is playing a big role in her recovery.
Who would have thought? It makes sense that music would help Gabrielle recover her speech. Her doctors have been gently helping her to sing, which is helping her re-learn how to talk. But even more surprising is the way music is helping her move and even walk! It's amazing to watch. Doctors are just beginning to explore how music can help people recover -- there's a lot they don't even know yet. I hope Gabrielle's case inspires more people to look into it, though, because it sounds like there's a lot of exciting potential.
It's the rhythm of music that helps people get their balance and sense of symmetry back. In the video below, you'll see Gabrielle's therapist playing the guitar while she slowly walks down the hallway. Her therapist says, "Music is accessing many different parts of the brain that aren't designated for language." Music taps into our memories, our emotions, and who knows what other important areas.
Not only that, an article in Discovery says that "music also tends to dig deeper, more well-worn pathways between neurons." Wow, that's ... deep. It's like music is a shortcut to creating long-lasting changes in the brain. Doctors are still experimenting with music, and Gabrielle seems to be on the front lines of that testing. How exciting for her -- especially since it seems to be working well.
No one would ever wish such a horrific trauma like this on Gabrielle (well, except her would-be assassin), but I love how her high-profile story is bringing more attention to musical therapy. I'm hoping her story will inspire more doctors to research the possibilities of music.
If you suffered a major physical trauma, would you want music to be part of your therapy?
Image via ABC
Something my kids handmade
A fun holiday at home with my family
Some time off!
Something just for me, like a plush robe