Local Men Using Music as Neurologic Therapy
Traumatic brain injuries and strokes affect two and a half million people in the country, according to MedRhythms’ website.
Brian Harris, a Howland man and his UMaine fraternity brother are using music as medicine in Boston. Their company, MedRhythms, is just over a year old, but they are revolutionizing the medical landscape in neurologic therapy.
The gift of song can sometimes bring back more than a memory. And when used as therapy, music can bring back language or movement in people who have suffered a brain injury or another neurologic disorder. This type of healing is gaining traction in the medical world.
“What we’ve seen is sometimes this is the only thing that works,” said Harris.
Harris completed his undergraduate studies at UMaine where he assisted during his first music therapy sessions. It was then that he discovered his true calling.
“When I found this, I felt very fortunate to be so young and to feel like this really was what I wanted to do, but it was really the perfect synthesis of my two passions,” said Harris.
So Harris and his business partner Owen McCarthy founded MedRhythms, a one-year-old Boston company that partners with local hospitals, but is expanding to make this type of cutting-edge care available to everyone.
“We’ve always known that music has an effect, but this is one of the first times where we can quantify it and say ‘This is how much better someone gets,’” said McCarthy.
Harris uses one method, called Melodic Intonation Therapy, on patients who can’t speak. It looks like singing. He’s learned to harness the power of a pattern.
“Music has a profound effect on the human brain and that there’s no other stimulus on earth that engages our brain like music does,” said Harris.
Right now, only people who go through top rehab hospitals or have the means to pay for in-home care can receive their music therapy. MedRhythms’ mission is to make it a standard of care, so people getting physical, speech, or occupational rehab can also receive the healing treatment that music provides.