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Rehabilitation for Children with Cerebral Palsy


Rehabilitation for Children with Cerebral Palsy: Seeing Through the Looking Glass

Enhancing Participation and Restoring Self-Image through the Virtual Music Instrument

Heidi Ahonen-Eerikäinen Ph.D., MTA,
Andrea Lamont MMT, MTA,
Roger Knox Ph.D.


Ahonen-Eerikäinen H, Lamont A & Knox R. (2008). Rehabilitation for Children with Cerebral Palsy:Seeing Through the Looking Glass
–Enhancing Participation and Restoring Self-Image through the Virtual Music Instrument
International Journal of Psychosocial Rehabilitation.12 (2), 41-66


This paper presents the results of a qualitative pilot study conducted on an innovative psychosocial rehabilitation technology developed and applied at Bloorview Kids Rehab, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  The Virtual Music Instrument (VMI) developed by Dr. Tom Chau is a video-capture software program that increases music-making opportunities for children and youth and allows children with disabilities to play musical sounds and melodies using gestures. The qualitative study was conducted to identify suitable music therapy interventions and techniques using the VMI with children with cerebral palsy (CP), to categorize areas of benefit that are made possible by the VMI, and to build theory on the role and significance of the VMI in music therapy. The research questions included: (1) What interventions and techniques are best used by the music therapist to promote the therapeutic relationship in application of the VMI? (2) In which domains is there benefit, both during sessions and over the time period of the study, from the use of this instrument within music therapy? Six participants aged 5.5 to 10 were recruited on a cross-disability basis. Each participant received ½-hour individual music therapy sessions, twice per week over 10 weeks, using the VMI. The Music Therapist employed a variety of techniques, including both clinical improvisation and task-oriented activities. The sessions were videotaped, transcribed and reviewed by a multi-disciplinary team. The clinician notes were also transcribed. Using a multiple case study qualitative methodology and grounded theory techniques, the transcribed material was coded and analyzed according to emerged themes using the QSR N6 software program. The results bring better understanding of using the VMI for optimum benefit, and also lead to theoretical and practical advances in the use of gesture recognition technology on music therapy and psychosocial rehabilitation among children with cerebral palsy