As members of the BrainBuddies Outreach team, we are accustomed to educating the community on brain-related topics. On January 12, 2016, we were lucky to find ourselves in the audience for a very important learning opportunity. 

Allison Woyiwada and her partner Robert described Allison’s inspiring road to recovery, outlining the important role of specialized therapies for brain injury and illness.

Allison began experiencing olfactory hallucinations and was diagnosed with a brain aneurysm in 2011. She had surgery to clip the aneurysm and, although successful, Allison was left without most of her previous cognitive and physical abilities. As a lover of music and a retired music teacher, Allison’s family thought it only natural to have music playing in her hospital environment; they were unaware at the time of how crucial music would be to Allison’s recovery. 

In September 2012, Allison began music therapy sessions. At this time, Allison’s global cognitive dysfunction continued to persist, but her motivation to recover was strong. This melodic intonation therapy moved from simple to complex melodies as a means of inducing neuroplasticity (the brain’s ability to reorganize itself and form new connections). Allison’s cognitive condition improved exponentially through the use of music therapy. Coupled with her strong will and determination for recovery, a capable team of doctors and rehabilitation specialists, and a wonderful support system, Allison was able to fully regain her cognitive and physical abilities. 

Allison’s story teaches us how specialized therapies (such as music therapy), coupled with perseverance and motivation, may be an incredibly useful tool in the future for recovery.