Matthew’s story

Matthew acquired a brain injury in a motorbike accident that also caused multiple physical injuries. After being referred to music therapy as part of his ongoing rehabilitation, it became a valuable part to supporting his social, physical, cognitive and communication goals.

Music therapy facilitates a space where Matthew can make sound and be as loud as wants in what otherwise is quite a silent existence for him.

In his twenties, Matthew acquired a brain injury in a motorbike accident that also caused multiple physical injuries. His ability to communicate was affected, and he experienced significant cognitive, emotional and behavioural changes. A few years after his accident, Matthew was admitted to Tŷ Aberdafen, a brain injury rehabilitation centre in Wales and part of The Disabilities Trust network of services, where he began a multi-discipline rehabilitation programme. Matthew uses a wheelchair and requires support for everyday tasks and communicates mostly through using gestures and electronic devices.

Music therapist Lucie shares the impact that music therapy has had on Matthew:

“Matthew is always excited to attend his music therapy sessions and some days, music is the only thing that motivates him.

After the first year of us working together, I began to see improvements in Matthew’s concentration and focus, as well as in his listening and physical control of the beater when playing a drum. Now, having developed more control in his beating, Matthew can communicate his playfulness and sense of humour more clearly, giving him a heightened experience of leading – and of catching me out!

A couple of years ago, we were ending a session with a familiar pop song (Roar by Katy Perry) and Matthew chose to participate by using his voice! This was the first time I had heard Matthew use his voice as he doesn’t tend to vocalise in his day-to-day life. I continued to work to incorporate Matthew’s gravelly vocalisations into our music, encouraging him to use his voice more, and by doing this together in music, creating meaning and conversation. It’s incredibly effortful for Matthew to use his voice, so his determination to keep using his voice in music therapy feels hugely significant. And whilst he may not regain what is perceived as functional use of his voice, Matthew can absolutely use his voice to communicate and express himself through music.

Music therapy has been a valuable part of Matthew’s rehabilitation, supporting his social, physical, cognitive and communication goals. Our musical work encourages him to be more present and aware of himself and those around him. Through music-making we have established a great rapport. There’s real trust there, and this allows us to take risks in our music-making, and try new things out, which leads us to discover new possibilities for Matthew. And that’s still happening, even though we’ve been working together almost 4 years. Music is still a big motivator for him, his voice is developing in reliability, his drumming is strong, sustained and becoming more varied, and we’ve started working more with his weaker arm which he is now gaining more control in. Music therapy facilitates a space where he can communicate freely, be as loud as he wants and experience being in control, which feels highly significant in the context of his life.”

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