Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Music Therapy for Previously Deaf Children

Music Therapy for Previously Deaf Children

New research conducted in Israel and led by Denmark’s Aalborg University once again highlights the incredible qualities of music.

These sounds and others were played by Dr. Dikla Kerem to two and three-year-olds who have an elaborate hearing aid called a "cochlear implant" surgically placed in their ears. Dr. Kerem examined the value of music therapy in the post-surgery rehabilitation process.

Infants who are born deaf and have this procedure can regain up to 90% of their hearing capacitiy. However, the procedure itself is only the first step in a longer process. There is a period of rehabilitation during which the person must adjust to living in a world with sound.

[Dr. Dikla Kerem, Researcher]:

"On the one hand their being able to hear is extremely exciting since they are exposed to a multitude of hearing stimuli all at once, yet on the other hand, it can be overwhelming and confusing."

One of the things Dr. Kerem discovered is that music therapy significantly enhances the toddlers' spontaneous communicative interactions, compared to play-based communication.

They showed increased initiative, imitation, turn-taking and synchronization. The result reinforced Dr. Kerem's hypothesis that music could be a bridge from the world of silence to the world of sound and speech.

[Dr. Dikla Kerem, Researcher]:

"After the operation, the child's whole environment — family, professional staff and others — put pressure on the child to start talking, to fill in what he had missed all that time he could not hear. One should understand that he does not have any language and speech skills and this is the place where music therapy comes in and suggests something else, something that enhances nonverbal communication and exposes the child to music and to its elements, such as pitch, intensity, nuance, etc."

Dr. Kerem's sessions with the children were extremely emotional for both parties.

[Dr. Dikla Kerem, Researcher]:

There were many instances during this research when I was very moved, I was part of their exposure to music. It was very touching to see those children get excited, enjoy and revel in all that was opening before them from a world that was new to them."

NTD news, Israel

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