The beat goes on. Music therapy becomes permanent at PCH

The beat goes on.

The beat goes on.

Music therapy becomes permanent at PCH.

When Archie was diagnosed with a rare brain tumour and had surgery at 11 years of age, he went from being an active, soccer-loving tween to being bedbound in Perth Children’s Hospital (PCH) for months on end, unable to walk or talk.

Archie was scared and frightened, and anxious about what lay ahead.

Music had always been a big part of his young life so when music therapy was introduced during rehabilitation, it became central to his healing.

“All you want is to hear your child’s voice again and with music therapy he started finding words when we hadn’t heard him speak for two months,” said mum Fay who, along with Archie’s whole family, was involved in music therapy sessions that often included the playing and singing of music favourites such as Vance Joy’s hit Riptide.

Music therapy is much more than just the playing of nice songs. This evidence-based therapy offers a holistic approach to recovery, leading to physical, functional, and social and emotional improvements.

It makes me feel very relaxed and calm, it controls my emotions and is very helpful,” said Archie, who wrote his own song as part of the therapy, which he continues to receive as an outpatient after leaving hospital.

Exposure to music has the potential to induce brain plasticity, the ability to change the structure and function of the brain. This makes it a powerful tool for patient rehabilitation, assisting with a variety of upper and lower limb physical skills and improving cognition, behaviour and communication, including speech and language, and social and mental wellbeing.

PCH Music Therapist, Karen Twyford, says it works because music is something we can all relate to.

It’s familiar and connects us with people and can make us feel happy, calm, excited or motivated,” Karen said.

“We can shape the different musical elements like pitch, tempo or dynamics depending on how we want the brain to respond.”

Professor Jane Valentine says music therapy is a powerful and important tool in the Kids Rehab WA clinical program.

“It really does help drive the recovery program for the child and the family, in that very difficult period of early recovery, and then later on when the children are able to interact and learn,” Professor Valentine said.

“Music therapy offers a vibrant and challenging way to learn, which we know integrates neuroplasticity and speeds up the recovery program.”

Music therapists work alongside clinicians to develop therapeutic programs tailored to the patient’s condition and musical interests. Depending on the stage of recovery, this may consist of patients simply listening to music played or sung by the therapist. In later stages, children can interact and learn through playing various instruments, music games, song writing and analysis.

For parents and families, music therapy offers a way to interact and engage with their child and also cope with the difficulty of having a sick child in hospital.

“Seeing Archie go through hard times, crying and sobbing at night and then to see him smiling and getting some sort of enjoyment out of hospital, I knew I was getting Archie back and it made me feel a lot better about the situation,” Faye said.

Perth Children’s Hospital Foundation has supported music therapy for children with brain injuries and spinal and neurological conditions since 2013. Since 2019 alone, more than 200 infants, children and young people and their families have experienced music therapy’s mind and body benefits.

Perth Children’s Hospital Foundation CEO Carrick Robinson said: “We’re incredibly proud to have helped so many children on their road to recovery through this evidence-based therapy and are grateful to the numerous supporters of the Foundation who have helped make his happen over the past 10 years.”

Recognising the remarkable impact of the Foundation-funded program, the government’s Child and Adolescent Health Service (CAHS) has taken over ongoing funding at PCH.

The powerful healing benefits of music therapy will now be available permanently for children with brain injuries, spinal and neurological conditions.

Note: Music therapy services at Perth Children’s Hospital are also available for infants/children and adolescents referred to Oncology and Haematology.

The funding of the Music Therapy program was made possible thanks to generous support from many of our donors including:

Austunnel, Brookwood Realty, Collins Food, Costco, Globe BD, Gold Corporation, Lanskey Constructions, Little Athletics, Mum Runners Club, North Perth Bowls Club, PCH Tennis Classic, Southern River Progress Association, Steggles Charity Nest, Toybox Australia, Troden Produce, Wanneroo Business Association and Zweck Fashion.

Scroll to Top

Join the PCHF mailing List.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.