9-year-old gunshot wound victim helped through music

9-year-old gunshot wound victim helped through music

A form of music is helping a boy with severe brain trauma.

Joey Slaight is a 9-year-old boy who made news after being shot in the head by his mother, who also shot and killed his younger brother Jaxon before shooting herself in January 2015.

For the last year, Joey’s recovery has been slow-going but recently, he has had quite a breakthrough at an unnamed residential care facility in the Midwest.

His family has asked for that facility to remain unnamed for security and recovery purposes.

However, it houses dozens of people with brain injuries from around the country.

Joey’s therapists recently discovered he was a great candidate for Melodic Intonation Therapy.

By definition, this form of therapy helps patients with communication disorders caused by damage to the left hemisphere of the brain.

It uses music elements of speech to improve language.

In simplistic terms, Joey’s right brain is working hard to help recover lost function of language from his left.

It means Joey can sing and say phrases that are sometimes six syllables long.

His speech pathologist, Becky Mitchum, will say-sing “Can I go outside please?” Joey can not only repeat it, he can understand it and answer.

“It’s just a phenomenal experience for all of us,” says Mitchum. “He comes in here ready to work. He’s just a sweet, sweet boy.”

When Joey first arrived in the care facility, he could only say “right, right”, “time” and “no.” Now he’s asking questions and coming up with his own sayings. One is “Ready? I was born ready.”

Mitchum also says music tends to help with Joey’s learning abilities because when he’s happy, important information is stored in the hippocampus and that becomes information he stores long-term.

Bottom line there – music often makes us happy and when we’re happy, we store memories.

“It’s just a miracle how things work,” says Andra Munoz, Joey’s aunt. She says never in a million years did she think he would be able to be verbal.

Mitchum says it’s thought that spontaneous recovery can happen within 18 months of a traumatic brain injury.

So, if you also piggy back that with treatment, the recovery can be maximized.