It was only in 2012 that Ed Buckley was struck by a speeding taxi as he walked home from a party, injuring his brain and sending him into a coma.
For six months, he lay comatose before consciousness returned. Unable to walk or speak, he faced a long road ahead. He would need to re-learn how to perform things that most of us take for granted.
A newspaper in England, where Buckley lives, recently told his story. Inside a mind he described as “like a mashed potato,” he found solace in music. He could not perform complex tasks — yet when put in front of a piano, he could still play some of his favorite songs like he could before his injury.
“Before I could walk or talk, and while I was still in a wheelchair, I could be pushed up to the piano and I would bang out ‘Let It Be’ by The Beatles. I remembered the chords for that, but I had no other memory,” the 22-year-old told the Daily Mail.
We know that people who suffer traumatic brain injuries like Buckley require lengthy and expensive medical treatments, which may or may not be able to return their lives to normal. But Buckley’s story is a reminder that families dealing with a TBI should be educated on additional methods of treatment — including the musical therapy he credits with returning his life nearly to normal.
Backed by a Growing Body of Research
The idea that music has mental and physical benefits is not a new concept, but it has been studied in closer detail in recent years. Known as rhythmic auditory stimulation, or RAS, many researchers are convinced it can boost the extent and the pace of recovery from a number of conditions — especially those affecting movement and cognition.
The benefits are more than physical. Using brain imaging, Stanford University researchers have concluded that music engages the portions of the brain that control paying attention and updating memory.
You don’t have to tell Ed Buckley that. Music was involved in his therapy from the start — whether it was playing the piano, singing his words when speaking was difficult or using a drum beat to guide the rhythm of his walking.
“I put my fingers on the keys, I just let it go and concentrate on other stuff. That’s what unlocked my brain,” he said.
Know Your Options
While it’s tough to dispute the benefits of musical therapy, it should not be the only form of treatment. People who suffer from TBIs sometimes need a lifetime of medical care and support from loved ones. Unfortunately, not all people who suffer a brain injury are as lucky as Ed Buckley.
Recovery takes an exhausting toll on a family, both emotionally and financially. That’s why we do what we do at the Brain Injury Law Center. For more than 40 years, founder and attorney Stephen Smith has been helping families affected by serious brain injuries get the compensation they deserve when a person or entity bears responsibility for the injury. Compensation doesn’t mean immediate recovery, but it can alleviate a stressful financial burden.