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


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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