Sensorimotor techniques are another common area in Neurological Music Therapy (NMT). Music and rhythm can be used to enhance motor behavior and responses. Rhythm plays an important role by providing timing as a foundation for movement, while auditory stimuli activate the brain and triggers the different senses. Musical patterns and instruments are common within the sensorimotor techniques as a way of addressing various motor movements. Brief descriptions of the three sensorimotor techniques in NMT are included below.
Rhythmic Auditory Stimulation (RAS): Rhythmic motor cuing is used to help with a person’s movement development, such as gait. Patterns using a steady beat provide cues for the person to step with. Music in 2/4 and 4/4 meters are most common. The rhythmic cues can either be a steady beat provided by a metronome, or strongly accented beats in a musical pattern.
Patterned Sensory Enhancement (PSE): A variety of patterns are used for this technique, including rhythmic, melodic, harmonic, and dynamic-acoustical patterns. These patterns provide cues for temporal and spatial movements, as well as for regulating or developing functional movements. Rhythmic cuing, much like in RAS, helps with timing of movement, while melodic patterns can help cue the changing of spatial positions. Harmonic and dynamic patterns can stimulate the development of muscle tone by applying force.
Therapeutic Instrumental Music Performance (TIMP): This technique focuses on the use of musical instruments to facilitate exercises and functional movement. Instruments are used for the client to hit or play in an effort to exercise range of motions, endurance, flexion/extension, and strength. For example, clients may address arm extensions by having to punch a tambourine. The sound of the instrument provides an auditory stimulus for the client and can help motivate them to continue.