Francesca Borghi, a Music Therapy student at Queen Margaret University gave an excellent presentation to staff at the Hub yesterday on her final year research project: An investigation into the potential of the iPad in Music Therapy. She had been motivated to research uses for the iPad after reading about Owen Cain, a young American boy with motor neurone disease whose limbs are all in slings but he can use a gentle touch and swipe action to access music, books and a variety of other apps. Have a look at this amazing film clip.
Francesca has been working with Greta, a 6 year old girl with quadriplegic cerebal palsy. Greta has severe visual, cognitive and communication impairment and associated seizure disorder. She was able to effectively use a knuckle to engage with a variety of musical apps (iOrgel, Harmonizer, Holiday Bells, Bongos, Magic Piano) on the iPad 2 while Francesca would sing or play the guitar.
We watched several film clips of Francesca playing music with Greta while her mother supported her head. It had taken some time to build up a relationship of trust and from there real progress was apparent. Greta was able to choose which app she wanted to use by clicking on the icon with her knuckly. She was clearly engaging with the music and enjoying herself.
The potential for use of the iPad for pupils with severe and complex learning needs is huge. These devices could be used by many pupils in a many different ways and supported easily by staff. The management issues over accessing the iTunes store on the school network to obtain apps needs to be overcome.