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Support Music Therapy

Craig Hospital boasts many unique therapy options, but only one that uses Bieber, the Beatles and Beethoven to meet rehabilitation goals.

Music Therapy program uses the neuroscience of music to help individuals with spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries make clinical strides in areas ranging from breath control to regulation of attention and gait patterns.

The program relies on donor support because many insurance companies limit the number of therapy sessions to strictly Occupation, Physical, or Speech Therapy. Gifts to the Music Therapy program allow Craig to offer this effective treatment to patients who can make greater strides in functional skills like walking, speaking or daily activities through music.

Patients are referred to the program by their doctor. Patients meet with the therapist up to three times a week for one-half to one hour one-on-one sessions.

A session might involve reaching for a tambourine or playing a drum to get an arm moving, singing exercises to help with breath control and projection, or walking in time with the rhythm of an autoharp.

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Sarah Thompson, Music Therapist

“We know so much about how the brain and body respond to rhythm, melody, and harmony,” says Thompson. “Music is so flexible; we are able to use it to our advantage to meet needs of our patients.”

“I’m not trying to turn patients into musicians,” she says. “It’s all about using the modality of music to help patients walk, talk, and return to the very best life possible.”

Music therapy is something I really enjoy. To me, music is very soothing and I have a blast in there no matter what I’m doing—it’s a big part of my therapy.”

Elias Marmon, TBI/SCI Patient

Why Music Therapy?

Music is a non-threatening medium that is motivating and engaging for individuals of all ages. Ongoing scientific research shows that music is processed on both sides of the brain. Music is processed in a different way than some other mediums such as speech. This unique processing can create opportunities for some exciting and unique results. Neurologic music therapy is appropriate for individuals with no musical experience, and also for individuals with musical experience. The music therapist is a competent musician who is trained to create successful and challenging applications that meet a person’s unique needs.

Benefits of Neurologic Music Therapy for Survivors of Traumatic Brain Injury:

  • Improves arousal and sensory stimulation
  • Improves motor movement (strength, endurance, timing, range of motion)
  • Improves speech rate, intelligibility and initiation
  • Improves speaking prosody
  • Improves attention
  • Improves executive functioning skills (planning, decision making, evaluating)
  • Improves mood control and social competence
  • Improves appropriate emotional expression

About Craig's Music Therapist, Sarah Thompson, MM, MT-BC, CBIS


Music Therapist-Board Certified #06885
Neurologic Music Therapist, Fellow
Certified Brain Injury Specialist # 10874

Sarah Thompson completed her undergraduate degree in music therapy at the University of Kansas and her Masters degree at Colorado State University. In 2003, Sarah passed a peer review of her clinical work and became a Fellow in the Robert F. Unkefer Academy of Neurologic Music Therapy at the Center for Biomedical Research in Music at Colorado State University.

She has supervised interns through Poudre Valley Hospital and the Center for Neurorehabilitation Services. She recently completed a term as adjunct faculty in the music therapy program at Colorado State University. Sarah has experience in program development, grant writing and insurance reimbursement. She has given presentations at both regional and national conferences. Sarah recently completed requirements to become a Certified Brain Injury Specialist, and is the only music therapist in the state of Colorado with that credential. She recently served on the advisory board for the Division of Worker’s Compensation revision of the medical treatment guidelines for Traumatic Brain Injury.

Sarah was Chair of the Colorado Association for Music Therapy board of directors from 2005-2009. She maintains close connections to the American Music Therapy Association, and the Colorado Association for Music Therapy. She currently serves as the Reimbursement Representative for the Midwestern Region.

Sarah was awarded the Change Maker Award in 2013 by the American Music Therapy Association and the Service Award by the Midwestern Region of the American Music Therapy Association in 2014.

Sarah co-authored an abstract with Dr. Alan Weintraub titled The Clinical Use of Neurologic Music Therapy In a Brain Injury Rehabilitation Setting: A Retrospective Analysis of Therapeutic Practice. The abstract was published in the Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation (2013), Vol. 28, No 5, pp E46.