Effects of neurological music therapy on behavioural and emotional recovery after traumatic brain injury: A randomized controlled cross-over trial

Neuropsychol Rehabil. 2022 Aug;32(7):1356-1388. doi: 10.1080/09602011.2021.1890138. Epub 2021 Mar 3.


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) causes deficits in executive function (EF), as well as problems in behavioural and emotional self-regulation. Neurological music therapy may aid these aspects of recovery. We performed a cross-over randomized controlled trial where 40 persons with moderate-severe TBI received a 3-month neurological music therapy intervention (2 times/week, 60 min/session), either during the first (AB, n = 20) or second (BA, n = 20) half of a 6-month follow-up period. The evidence from this RCT previously demonstrated that music therapy enhanced general EF and set shifting. In the current study, outcome was assessed with self-report and caregiver-report questionnaires performed at baseline, 3-month, 6-month, and 18-month stages. The results showed that the self-reported Behavioural Regulation Index of the Behaviour Rating Inventory of Executive Function (BRIEF-A) improved more in the AB than BA group from baseline to 3-month stage and the effect was maintained in the 6-month follow-up. No changes in mood or quality of life questionnaires were observed. However, a qualitative content analysis of the feedback revealed that many participants experienced the intervention as helpful in terms of emotional well-being and activity. Our results suggest that music therapy has a positive effect on everyday behavioural regulation skills after TBI.

Keywords: Behavioural regulation; Executive functioning; Music therapy; Randomized controlled trial; Traumatic brain injury.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Brain Injuries, Traumatic* / psychology
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Emotions
  • Humans
  • Music Therapy*
  • Quality of Life