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Music therapy expedites ankle foot orthotics rehab

Delivering benefits to children with Cerebral Palsy who are receiving post-operative physiotherapy support



Children with Cerebral Palsy who are receiving post-operative physiotherapy support at the Portland Hospital for Women and Children, London, having undergone Spinal Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR), are benefiting from Chroma’s music therapy sessions as they experience elevated rehabilitation sessions.

Children, aged between two and seven years, seen in joint sessions with Dorset Orthopaedic, one of the UK’s leading providers of private prosthetic and orthotic rehabilitation, typically struggle to sit still to allow measurements to be taken.

While they are being measured for prosthetics and orthotics, the Chroma music therapist, alongside the physio team, engages with the children to ensure their treatment meets their needs.

SDR is a specialised neurosurgery that treats lower limb muscle stiffness (spasticity) in children with cerebral palsy by dividing sensory nerve rootlets in the spinal cord.

Intensive physiotherapy is crucial following SDR to practice movement patterns in the absence of spasticity and build up muscle strength; the use of music therapy expedites their rehab.

Typically, ankle foot orthotics target the ankle and shin – strengthening and supporting the ankle in its position and promoting the position of the knee – essentially helping support the children with their standing. This makes a huge difference to their walking.

Children undergo an intensive three-week therapy programme following surgery, not only to ease rehabilitation from the surgery but more importantly, to support the new pathways that have been developed following the surgery, facilitating the way the children move.

Integrating music therapy within physiotherapy sessions further supports the children in re-learning how to move, how to shift their weight, balance, movement, and walk – it really is working from the ground up and starting again because their legs feel very different.

Additionally, for younger children, music therapy helps to normalise the child’s experience, offering new and changing ways of motivating and engaging them in rehabilitation and building relationships. It also builds confidence in movement and to be confident in their bodies. And of course, music primes movement. It’s intuitive without necessarily using words.

For each child’s journey, music helps increase their stamina enabling them to be in a position longer than they would do outside of therapy.

Jon Fever, a music therapist at Chroma, said: “Music therapy is a completely different medium to work with and something that doesn’t require words to explain what you want the child to do.

“Music therapists create a musical atmosphere – a song, a story, or could be using the music through pattern sensory enhancement (PSE) as a directive for the children to go up or down depending on the intensity of the music – it becomes intuitive. The music tells them how to move which is a fun alternative to quite often monotonous, painful (but necessary) exercises.

“Working as part of the multi-disciplinary team – Chroma, Dorset Orthopaedic and the physiotherapists at The Portland Hospital – help reduce anxiety in children by creating fun and engaging stories. For example. we’re all members of the child’s band, which shifts any sense of power or hierarchy between child and therapist. This will often impact and support the child’s engagement and confidence.

“Using music therapy as an engaging medium within a gruelling rehabilitation journey is essential to support better rehab outcomes and ensure orthotics are optimal for each child – supporting the very best outcomes for these amazing children.”

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