Pioneering music therapy comes to St Neots

AN Eaton Socon man is hoping to bring a pioneering music therapy technique to St Neots.

AN Eaton Socon man is hoping to bring a pioneering music therapy technique to St Neots.

Alex Street, 43, of Queens Gardens, is an experienced health professional specialising in neurologic music therapy (NMT) who currently runs a therapy service at Anglia Ruskin University.

He is one of only 30 neurologic music therapists in the UK, and treats people with acquired brain injuries and other neuro-degenerative illneses like Parkinson’s disease.

Alex hopes the technique, currently being used on American congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head at point blank range in January this year, will benefit the people of Huntingdonshire.

He told The Hunts Post: “My aim is to set up a service for both children and adults in St Neots with brain injuries and other neuro-degenerative conditions like autism and Aspergers syndrome.

“I have already been in close liaison with the with the St Neots Parkinson’s Support Group and Winhills school in St Neots and hope to develop links with other agencies in the area.”

Most Read

A highly accomplished musician in his own right, Alex worked with adults at the Headway Charity in London, which was set up specifically to provide long-term support for people with acquired brain injuries, before going on to train in NMT.

“The difference between normal music therapy and NMT is that the latter is goal-driven and works on the physical, mental, social and emotional aspects of a person’s recovery,” Alex explained, “whereas normal music therapy focuses more on the theraputic relationship between patient and therapist.”

“In NMT you set a non-musical goal, for example, to improve a walking pattern, and then set a musical exercise to support that goal.

“As the goal is reached you fade the music away and you’re left at the end with the achieved goal.”

NMT was developed over a period of 25 years by Professor Michael Thaut at the Centre for Bio-Medical Research at Colorado State University, and the first training in the UK took place two years ago at the Royal Hospital for Neuro Disability in Putney.

He continued: “The effectiveness of this type of therapy heavily depends on the person delivering it.

“In the case of Gabrielle Giffords, the bullet passed through the left side of her brain which controls language.

“Her therapist, Maegan Morrow, started off by using Twinkle Twinkle Little Star because it has a predictable structure and is repetitive”

Alex went on to say that once Giffords was able to mouth the words of the nursery rhyme, she was introduced to more complex music, such as jazz and has now progressed to sing-along classics like American Pie.

Alex hopes that a meeting today [Tuesday] at the Parks Therapy Centre in St Neots will enable him to set up a service for the people of St Neots.

The centre, based on Cambridge Street, offers a multidisciplinary approach to patient care offering physio and occupational therapy amongst other things, and he believes the addition of NMT would be a great asset to the town.