FORBES: Music Heals: MedRhythms Uses Music To Treat Traumatic Brain Injury

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Amidst all of the chatter about music as it relates to business models, it can be easy to forget that music is unlike other "inputs" or assets that businesses utilize. This is true for all art forms, of course, but music - for a variety of reasons - dominates the conversations around the challenges of attempting to commoditize art.

I'm sure I speak for not only music fans, but also for those who work in the music business, when I say that music has value that far exceeds monetization. For many - myself included - music has saved their lives.

Amidst my contributions to the above-referenced chatter, I'd like to utilize this space to profile some companies who are using music to heal.

To that end, I spoke recently with Brian Harris HRS +1.5%, the CEO of MedRhythms. MedRhythms uses neurologic music therapy to treat those with neurologic injury or disease.

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Boston Herald: The Sound of Music Therapy

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A local company is treating patients who suffer from neurological disorders and brain injuries with the healing powers of music, a type of therapy researchers say is gaining traction in the medical world.

MedRhythms, founded by 26-year-old Brian Harris — who earned his master’s degree in music therapy from Lesley University in Cambridge — uses rhythm and melodies to help combat the effects of conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, autism and the aftermath of strokes.

“It’s incredible to watch someone who’s lost language or lost movement take their first step and say their first word with music,” Harris said. “The really interesting thing about this work is that we often see drastic changes.”

The company has a handful of employees, but is looking to expand. Harris said the staff has logged nearly 1,000 clinical hours in total.

MedRhythms, the first neurologic music therapy company in New England, uses music’s ability to engage patients who face challenges with speech and movement.

“It could be singing or walking to a rhythm, or engaging in a task that challenges their mind,” Harris said. “Every time someone has a response to it, and it happens a lot, it absolutely amazes me.”

Harris is trained on the drums and viola, but was not interested in pursuing music education or live performance.

Music therapy “just made sense,” he said.

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BostInno: How a NeuroRehab Startup is Harnessing Music to Heal Brain Injury Patients

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Even before there was any research to explain it or prove it, we knew that music can have healing powers—both for our bodies and minds. But as new neuroscience research has emerged, we’ve learned that singing or playing an instrument not only activates our entire brain—from areas involved in attention and memory to language processing—but can actually change it, strengthening old connections or forming new ones. Over the past 15 years, the neurologic music therapy field has evolved from that research, demonstrating the direct improvements that music can cause in people with language or cognitive difficulties due to stroke, Parkinson’s Disease, Huntington’s Disease, or traumatic brain injuries. And with this movement, MedRhythms emerged to harness music’s healing capabilities and extend them to more patients.

Brian Harris, founder and CEO of the Boston company, is one of 250 NMT fellows in the world. The idea for MedRhythms—New England’s first neurologic music therapy company—came about very naturally for Harris, who says music and science have always been his primary passions. A trained drummer and violist since age 8, he always knew his career would involve music, but admits he didn’t want to take the performance or education route. Then he heard about music therapy.

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