The Case for Musical Instrument Training in Cerebral Palsy for Neurorehabilitation

Neural Plast. 2016:2016:1072301. doi: 10.1155/2016/1072301. Epub 2016 Oct 27.


Recent imaging studies in cerebral palsy (CP) have described several brain structural changes, functional alterations, and neuroplastic processes that take place after brain injury during early development. These changes affect motor pathways as well as sensorimotor networks. Several of these changes correlate with behavioral measures of motor and sensory disability. It is now widely acknowledged that management of sensory deficits is relevant for rehabilitation in CP. Playing a musical instrument demands the coordination of hand movements with integrated auditory, visual, and tactile feedback, in a process that recruits multiple brain regions. These multiple demands during instrument playing, together with the entertaining character of music, have led to the development and investigation of music-supported therapies, especially for rehabilitation with motor disorders resulting from brain damage. We review scientific evidence that supports the use of musical instrument playing for rehabilitation in CP. We propose that active musical instrument playing may be an efficient means for triggering neuroplastic processes necessary for the development of sensorimotor skills in patients with early brain damage. We encourage experimental research on neuroplasticity and on its impact on the physical and personal development of individuals with CP.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Cerebral Palsy / physiopathology*
  • Cerebral Palsy / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Music Therapy* / methods
  • Music*
  • Neurological Rehabilitation / methods
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*