Therapist Brings Music To Life's Fragile Moments

February 05, 2020

Memorial Staff

Tretn Barrick

Trenton Barrick is a recording artist by night and a board-certified music therapist by day.

For the past 9 years, he has seen the effects of music in life’s most complex and fragile moments.

As a neurologic music therapist at the Memorial Rehabilitation Institute, Trent exemplifies the core values of remarkable caring, compassion and collaboration which come through loud and clear through his ability to utilize music to engage and retrain the injured brain and body to help restore quality of life to our patients.

Trent's work earned him the Board of Commissioner's Excellence in Core Values Award and the honor was presented to him during the January meeting.

Since Trent has worked for Memorial, he has brought music into the patient experience and the community.

On his first day at Memorial, he met a patient who could only walk 6 meters. During a single music therapy session in conjunction with physical therapy, the patient walked 76 meters in rhythm with her favorite Cuban music, smiling for the first time since she came to the hospital.

Music Therapy Program at Memorial

Biomedical researchers have concluded that music is a highly structured auditory language involving complex perception, cognition and motor control in the brain.

From that day forward, Trent has worked tirelessly to expand the music therapy program and provides music therapy individually and collaboratively with other disciplines.

The program at Memorial includes therapeutic drumming groups, music and memory groups, live music-assisted guided relaxations for pain management, a music library program to enhance neuroplasticity in patients with strokes, and an inpatient choir for individuals with aphasia. The program has spanned into acute care, outpatient rehabilitation, post-op, and in one occasion, during the actual surgery for the purpose of pain management.

Multiple musicians have been patients at Memorial Rehabilitation Institute and have expressed fear of never being able to perform again. One patient, Greg, was a singer-songwriter who suffered limb loss from a train accident. He expressed fear of not being able to “make ends meet” post-discharge. Trent saw the opportunity and not only provided a platform for an in- house concert, but partnered with a local recording studio to help provide necessary equipment to record a full-length album for Greg to sell in order to help cover his cost of living.

Recovery of speech and language is just one of the applications of neurologic music therapy. Fabian was completely nonverbal after a traumatic brain injury from a motorcycle accident. After two weeks of continued music therapy, Fabian found his voice through song.

With his mother present, Fabian’s brain was able to respond to the prompt “Hey Jude” from the popular Beatles song. Using a similar song, Fabian was also able to sing “to you” of “Happy birthday.” Fabian’s mother immediately burst into tears. We discovered it was indeed her birthday - and the first time she had heard her son’s voice since the accident.

Trent’s dedication to the field of music therapy and patient care goes beyond Memorial and into the community.

In 2018, he spearheaded a relationship with the University of Miami to create an internship for future music therapy students hoping to learn how to provide excellent care through music. Earlier this year, Trent saw a lack of connection within the South Florida community and created a community-based chorus for stroke survivors with the goal of community performances.