Transforming Communities

Music interventions for acquired brain injury – Dr Wendy Magee, LMN at the RSM 16 November 2015

Live Music Now at the Royal Society of Medicine – 16 November 2015

Dr Wendy Magee, Associate Professor, Temple University, Philadelphia, USA

People who sustain severe brain injuries following stroke, trauma or illness are usually left with many significant difficulties. Primarily, these include problems with movement, speaking, and understanding. These primary problems impact how a person functions socially in relationships, living independently, how they feel about themselves, and their mood and emotions. Ultimately, the person with acquired brain injury can be left less independent and with a lesser quality of life. This presentation drew on a major piece of current work that is reviewing the evidence for using music to address the problems caused by brain injury, The Cochrane Review of Music Interventions for Acquired Brain Injury. This presentation describes the range of ways that music is used in hospital and rehabilitation settings to improve the problems sustained from brain injury Music is used to address movement, communication, thinking and emotional difficulties after brain injury. In particular, music is effective for improving walking and arm movement (which can improve independence). This presentation also outlined the evidence for the beneficial effects of music on talking, mood, and understanding. More research is needed to demonstrate the effectiveness of music interventions to improve mood following brain injury.


Dr. Wendy L. Magee is Associate Professor in Music Therapy at Temple University, Philadelphia. She has been a clinician, researcher and trainer working in neurological and neuropalliative rehabilitation since 1988. Her research is widely published spanning topics encompassing stroke and brain injury rehabilitation; measurement in rehabilitation; Multiple Sclerosis; Huntington’s Disease; Parkinson’s Disease; Disorders of Consciousness; research philosophy; brain-computer music interfaces and music technology in health. She is a Cochrane reviewer, a Leverhulme Fellowship recipient, and has international repute as a speaker and trainer in music therapy and music and health.

Selected publications can be accessed at:


1. Bradt, J., Magee, W.L., Dileo, C., Wheeler, B. & McGilloway, E. (2010). Music therapy for acquired brain injury. (Review). Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. Issue 7. Art. No.: CD006787. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD006787.pub2.

2. Magee, W.L., Clark, I., Tamplin, J., & Bradt, J. (Submitted for publication). Music Interventions for Acquired Brain Injury. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.