Boy playing drum with music therapist

Nathan’s Story

Music gave 18-year-old Nathan a way to express himself after he sustained a brain injury so severe that medics warned his family he may die.

Nathan was in a coma for two weeks after his accident and spent eighteen months in hospital, where he underwent several operations including a cranioplasty. During this time, he started working with Nordoff Robbins music therapist Jo, as part of his rehabilitation.  At first he was bed-bound, unable to do anything for himself and was only able to talk or sing in a whisper.

Talking about Nathan, Jo said: “Initially, Nathan was in isolation so he didn’t have a lot of company. I was able to go in with my sterilised guitar and my gloves and apron and we would have a little session at his bedside. We would enjoy making up songs together. At that time Nathan was having a lot of things done to him, but in music, he was able to take the lead. At every stage of his rehab, music could meet him where he was – and celebrate how far he’d come.”

Music and rap-loving Nathan has continued to work with Jo following his discharge from hospital. At first, he would use the cymbals or even the arm of his wheelchair to accompany Jo while she played the keyboard, which helped to develop his co-ordination and concentration skills. He has now progressed onto playing the djembe drum, the keyboard and rapping…and has even written a rap with Jo entitled “Nathan’s Journey” about what happened and his road to recovery.

Nathan has also been fundraising to ensure fellow patients at the Traumatic Brain Injury Service (TBIS) at Moriston Hospital in Swansea are able to benefit from music therapy and other rehabilitation services. At his 18th birthday party, he asked friends and families to put donations to support services into buckets in lieu of gifts.

Speaking of Nathan’s generosity, Jo said: “Nathan’s decision to donate all the fundraising he did at his 18th birthday party was incredibly touching for us as a service because it means we can carry on delivering rehab to people in a range of innovative ways. I wasn’t surprised because I have got to know Nathan over the last couple of years and I know he’s such a generous and positive person, I knew he’d want to help other people.”

NATHAN AND JO SING:

Read more about music therapy for people with neurological conditions:

Music therapy and neuro- rehab