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Music can help to heal Traumatic Brain Injury

By Airman 1st Class Caitlin Russell | 673d ABW Public Affairs | Nov. 14, 2017


Past and present service members and dependents suffering from traumatic brain injury can now take part in a Creative Forces music therapy program designed to help them recover and rehabilitate at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.

 The music therapy program is open to members who receive a referral from the 673d Medical Group TBI clinic at the JBER hospital.

Creative Forces music therapy began in April 2017, as a resource to support and provide training to community art providers, and invest in research on the impacts of art-based interventions like the music therapy program held at the JBER hospital Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic.

For people with TBI, music therapy can be the key to rehabilitation. Music therapists use techniques to stimulate speech, movement and cognitive emotions in TBI patients.

 “I joined the music therapy group after finding out about it from the TBI clinic,” said Army Staff Sgt. Sean Young, Delta Battery 2-377th Field Artillery Battalion training room noncommissioned officer. “With TBI, I started losing memory and overall comprehension, but with music therapy I’m able to play the guitar and remember riffs without thinking about it.”

According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 1.5 million people in the U.S. suffer from a TBI each year; 85,000 people suffer long term disabilities.

Music therapy is an opportunity for people suffering from TBI to express emotions, promote insight and awareness, and develop more neuropathways to restore memory.

“The Creative Forces music therapy program assists with the needs of military patients and veterans who have been diagnosed with TBI, as well as their families and caregivers,” said Danielle Kalseth, 673d Medical Operations Squadron, TBI clinic creative art therapist.

The music therapy program currently helps 30 patients rehabilitate from TBI, with new referrals every week. In order to be referred to the TBI music therapy program patients must first be referred to the TBI clinic for initial evaluation and then a TBI provider refers specific patients for music therapy based upon their specific needs.

 “Music therapy helps with more than just my memory; it helps with my mood too,” Young said. “On days when I’m in a bad mood, playing the guitar is a great way to change that.”

Music therapy is known to reduce stress, anxiety and pain, Creative Forces lets military members engage in a meaningful activity with others who are going through the same issues.

For more information on TBI and music therapy, contact the JBER hospital TBI clinic at 580-0014 or visit the Creative Forces website at

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