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Maybelle’s music therapy bringing comfort

Hf6 music therapy 1
WCH News
Posted 20 Apr 2023

“Music therapy is one of the best things Justin has had in hospital. It has been such a positive experience for him,” said his mum, Sarah.

Justin was admitted to the Women’s and Children’s Hospital’s (WCH) Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) in February when he developed long segment transverse myelitis, a neurological condition which limited his movement.

“He woke up from a nap one day and couldn’t move. Monday, we arrived at hospital and by Tuesday he was intubated,” said Sarah.

After 9 days in hospital, medical staff determined that Justin would require a long-term stay and to assist with this, they referred him to our music therapy program with music therapist Maybelle.

Music therapists at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital work with babies, children, young people and their families alongside their health journey to support emotional health and wellbeing, while reducing stress relating to hospitalisation.

The results for Justin and his family have been amazing, with the music therapy sessions giving Justin a sense of familiarity during his stay.

Sarah says, “Some of the songs were familiar songs from the play group we would attend and gave him familiarity and happiness.”

“When he couldn’t move much at the start he would communicate with Maybelle with his head. He can interact much more now and absolutely loves it.”

Typically, music therapy may involve one or a combination of interventions to promote health and wellbeing outcomes. These include:

  • Instrumental play and joint music making
  • Improvised musical experiences
  • Guided music listening and lyric discussion
  • Composition and songwriting
  • Create music playlists
  • Infant-directed singing
  • Music or song recording
  • Learn about functions of music and everyday wellbeing
  • Access in-hospital music resources

In Justin’s case, his favourite activities include playing the xylophone and singing the ‘Five little ducks song’ accompanied with his toy ducks. “Ever since they came, they haven’t been able to leave, he definitely loves the ducks,” says Sarah.

Justin’s siblings and parents often join in on his sessions as a family and “one day even the doctors joined in,” she says.

“It’s an amazing program. It’s so good that the hospital has it and it will definitely be great for future patients to bring happiness during their stay.”

Thank you to Justin’s family for sharing your story and thank you to the WCH Foundation for supporting music therapy through their Arts in Health Program.

For more information on music therapy, visit: