Music Therapy and Cerebral Palsy

Music Therapy and Kids with Cerebral Palsy

As you’ve no doubt discovered through my monthly newsletter, Music Therapy has so many helpful applications. One in particular I’d like to highlight this month are the benefits of Music Therapy on neuromuscular diseases such as Cerebral Palsy.

Cerebral Palsy, often referred to as “CP”, is a loss or impairment of motor function, as a result of brain injury or abnormal development of the brain, that occurs while a child’s brain is still developing. Individuals may vary in the manifestation of physical impairment, but generally speaking, CP affects one’s ability to control muscles: one’s muscles may contract too much, too little, or all at the same time. As a result, coordination, posture, and balance may be impacted and everyday tasks such as sitting, walking, tying shoes or grasping objects, can prove to be immensely challenging. Additional complications commonly include intellectual impairment, seizures, and vision or hearing impairment.

So how can Music Therapy help with CP?

  • Promotes relaxation – music is wonderful because we are physically impacted by its presence. Music in therapy helps to lower heart rate and eases muscle tension, which can be an ever-present challenge for individuals. If a child with CP participates in group sessions, the presence of music can also assist in socialization skills with other children.
  • Improves movement – the coordination of physical movements to music helps to improve flexibility and dexterity, which in turn helps refine gross and fine motor skills. One of the greatest benefits documented is the ability of the child to organize their gait through the rhythm of music, impacting their stride and balance while walking. Additionally, great joy can be found in Music Therapy sessions through dancing!
  • Builds language and listening skills – speaking can be especially challenging for children with CP, impacting self-esteem and their ability to communicate with others. Music Therapists use music to encourage the child to speak, or sing, in tandem with music, enabling them to develop control of their vocal muscles. Repetition during singing also allows children to remember what others have said.
  • Increases motivation – perhaps one of the most impactful benefits of Music Therapy is the reality that for children with CP, a lot of time may be spent in therapy, and Music Therapy sessions can prove to be a joyful experience that children look forward to and thus gain greater benefits in all forms of therapy as a result.

If you or someone you know with Cerebral Palsy could benefit from Music Therapy, please contact me and I we can set up a time to talk!


Kim McMillin

RN, MA, MT-BC, LMHC, LMFT (CO) Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Board Certified Music Therapist

I am passionate about helping others to find the goodness within them and to heal the barriers that prevent them from embracing the light of goodness inside. Each of us comes into this world as a magnificent sun. What often trips us up is that we learn to identify with the clouds — ugly things…