Elucidating the role of music therapy in acquired brain injury rehabilitation through qualitative synthesis of case literature
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This study explores the value of qualitative insights described in case literature on music therapy and acquired brain injury (ABI) rehabilitation to inform practice and research. 23 cases from UK-published literature between 2000-2019 were reviewed using the method of thematic synthesis as described by Thomas and Harden (2008). Themes identified through the analysis include identity, coping with loss, independence, relationship and supportive teamworking. Beneath these themes, a story of positive personal transitions emerged for the individuals who experienced ABI. This was thought to be facilitated by the therapeutic relationship, support from peers and the wider multidisciplinary rehabilitation team in providing a secure base to encourage acceptance, belonging and exploration. The creative process was identified as driving the process of change. A model of creative resilience was put forward to elucidate the role of music therapy within ABI rehabilitation. Practitioners working in rehabilitation have identified the importance of rehabilitation goals to focus on a person’s full potential (Sarajuuri et al. 2018), which includes qualitative aspects of ABI rehabilitation that are often difficult to measure. Clinical evidence to support music therapy as an intervention in rehabilitation settings increasingly emphasises quantifiable outcomes, however this study seeks to demonstrate the value in identifying key aspects of music therapy, described through experiences, that cannot be shown through statistical outcomes. Although not quantifiable, these aspects reflect holistic, resource-oriented rehabilitation approaches and may support individuals’ capacity to participate in multidisciplinary rehabilitation programmes. An identified role for music therapy of fostering creative resilience for individuals with ABI could help music therapy practitioners to frame and communicate their role within the wider multidisciplinary team, and to develop music therapy practice alongside advancing interdisciplinary practices in rehabilitation settings.