Acquired Brain Injury and Music Therapy

An acquired brain injury is a traumatic or non-traumatic brain injury that occurs after birth, is not hereditary, congenital or degenerative.  A traumatic brain injury occurs as a result of an open or non-open injury caused by an external force, for example, from a fall, motor vehicle collision, sports injury, or assault.  A non-traumatic brain injury results from an injury to the brain which occurs internally, for example, lack of oxygen to the brain caused by a heart attack, stroke, near-drowning, aneurysm, tumor, or infectious disease like meningitis.[1]

Acquired brain injuries are often seen in life care planning and affect a patient’s ability to function physically, emotionally as well as they may experience behavioral instability and this can severely influence the lives of those affected.

Tucker and Polyak (2020), wrote about music therapy and the positive effects on individuals with brain injuries, utilized during physical therapy and occupational therapy sessions, music can increase motivation, willingness to participate in therapy and increased socialization, especially when used in a group setting along with improving mood, attention, memory, and movement.  The limitations inflicted on those with brain injuries can lead to increased agitation and depression. Music brings a sense of something familiar and consistent which is often something strongly desired by a patient post-injury.[2]

Music therapy can be utilized in many ways in various settings including one-on-one, group settings, or individuals in their own home.  It can be effective at reducing anxiety and promoting relaxation when used in combination with a guided meditation.

The following are some of the CPT codes that have been recommended by the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) for music therapists to report music therapy:

  • 96156 – health behaviour assessment or re-assessment
  • 96158 – health behaviour intervention, individual; initial 30 mins
  • 96159 – health behaviour intervention, individual; additional 15 mins
  • 96164 – health behaviour intervention, group; initial 30 mins
  • 96165 – health behaviour intervention, group; additional 15 mins
  • 96167 – health behaviour intervention, family; initial 30 mins
  • 96168 – health behaviour intervention, family; additional 15 mins
  • 96170 – health behaviour intervention, family; initial 30 mins
  • 96171 – health behaviour intervention, family; additional 15 mins

To read stories of patients with brain injuries and how music has helped them through their injury see the article here.


American Music Therapy Association (2020). CPT Codes. Retrieved from

Brain Injury Association of America (2020). What is the difference between an acquired brain injury and a traumatic brain injury? Retrieved from

Tucker, Jenna & Polyak, Marina (2020).  Incorporating music in therapy for individuals with acquired brain injury. Brain Injury Association of American Magazine, 13(4). pg. 10-12.  Retrieved from [1]