Marion HaaseBorn in Caracas, Venezuela and raised in Houston, music has always been a part of Marión Hasse’s life. In fact, everyone in her family is closely connected to the arts. So it was no surprise when she received her undergrad and graduate degrees in music therapy and became a board-certified Neurologic Music Therapist.

“My upbringing also involved understanding the importance of helping others when they are in need,” said Haase. “Music therapy unites both of those aspects of my life.”

During her research for her master’s, she corresponded with UAB Physical Therapy faculty member Matt Ford, PT, Ph.D., whose research involves the use of music for individuals with Parkinson’s disease.

“Research in Neurologic Music Therapy has shown improvements in walking when participants with Parkinson’s disease partake in long-term training with specific music tailored to their walking needs,” said Haase. “The motor aspects of speech (rate of speech, articulation, use of the diaphragm) are also addressed in NMT through specific singing and wind instrument exercises. Other motor and cognitive abilities can be exercised by playing instruments, exercising with specific types of live music, and more.”

She realized she wanted to continue with her research. That led her to the newly created PhD in Rehabilitation Science program housed jointly in the Departments of Occupational and Physical Therapy.

“This program provides me with the tools to engage in research regarding those questions and ideas that are in need of scientific quantification and understanding in regards to Neurologic Music Therapy and Parkinson’s Rehabilitation,” said Haase. “I believe research is the best avenue for me to combine my professional and personal experiences to enhance the use of music in therapy.”

Program Director David Brown, PT, Ph.D., said he didn’t want the traditional doctoral program that molds the person into what the program wants them to be. Instead, the candidates have the opportunity to actualize their own goals, which is what drew Haase to the program.

“The Rehabilitation Science program is a unique research program,” said Haase. “It provides an environment in which music therapists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech and language pathologists, and other related disciplines partake in the collaborative effort toward refining the science of rehabilitation.”

Haase continues to practice as a Neurologic Music Therapist part-time, but her main goal is to engage in clinical research to help legitimize the field of NMT.

“I hope to continue developing effective Neurologic Music Therapy applications, both requiring strong quantitative evidence as well as a strong relationship with other disciplines,” said Haase.