Phases of music therapy treatment in a severe paediatric burns case

Mrs Aniek Janssen1, Mrs Clare Kildea1

1Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital, South Brisbane, Australia


Historically, music therapy research in burns has focused on music analgesia, where music therapy interventions and techniques are used to ease the sufferings of the burns patient (Whitehead-Pleaux, 2013). However in more recent developments, the role of music therapy appears to be changing as clinical procedures such as debridement and dressing changes are conducted under a general anaesthetic.

This case study will describe the application of music therapy techniques in the acute and sub-acute care of patient ‘Jack’, during a lengthy hospital admission for severe burn injury. It will distinguish six different stages in music therapy treatment for severe burn injury, with musical interventions and goals in each phase.

During Jack’s stay in Paediatric Intensive Care Unit music therapy assisted with settling and pain management and it provided family with a sense of being included in his cares when he was sedated and intubated. Music therapy provided support and assistance while sedation was weaned and Jack emerged from his delirious state. Music therapy helped Jack deal with his lengthy admission and it helped him safely explore the trauma and grief around the loss of a sibling. Music therapy also supported in the physical rehabilitation by providing Jack with opportunity to playfully increase moments of purposeful movement to achieve an extended range of motion in his upper limbs and regain fine motor skills.

This presentation explores the changing role of music therapy in paediatric burns care and invites clinicians to consider modifying and adapting techniques in order to meet patient needs in an evolving clinical practice area.


Aniek Janssen is music therapist at the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital, working across a range of acute paediatric caseloads including burns care and paediatric intensive care.

Clare Kildea is Clinical Lead Music Therapy at the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital, managing the acute care team and working predominantly in critical care.





ANZBA is a not for profit organisation and the peak body for health professionals responsible for the care of the burn injured in Australia and New Zealand. ANZBA encourages higher standards of care through education, performance monitoring and research.

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