Queensland Children's Hospital Registered Music Therapist Kylie Barrett plays the guitar for baby Florence Muggeridge.
Queensland Children's Hospital Registered Music Therapist Kylie Barrett plays the guitar for baby Florence Muggeridge. Contributed

'Pure joy': Music therapy brings surprise to infant

AT ONE month old, Florence Muggeridge opened her eyes for the first time to the sound of her music therapist, Kylie Barrett, singing In the Jungle.

Florence has been diagnosed with several medical conditions.

Her conditions included congenital bilateral perisylvian polymicrogyria, arthrogryposis and Pierre Robin sequence.

As a result, Florence remains unable to breathe through her mouth and nose, swallow, suck, speak or have full control over her muscle movement.

Florence's father, Gladstone resident Brett Muggeridge, said it was the music therapy that prompted Florence to first open her eyes, after not knowing whether she even had her hearing ability.

"Our expectations at the time were so incredibly low," he said.

"Not far into the first song Florence opened her eyes for the first time.

"It was pure joy that was written all over her face - we were so thankful."

Now at almost 18 months old, Mr Muggeridge said their music therapist still saw Florence fairly regularly.

"Florence herself is voiceless but you can see in her eyes that she is so happy," he said.

"Even without a voice she can engage."

Queensland Children's Hospital registered music therapist Mrs Barrett said it had been very special to work with Florence and her family over time.

"In that first session where (Florence) opened her eyes and turned her head - that was really special," she said.

"It was the most alert she had ever been in her short four weeks of being alive.

"We are so lucky to keep providing the service and hear feedback from people like Florence's family."

The hospital-funded program delivered music therapy to more than 600 children and families over the 2017-18 financial year.

Mrs Barrett said there were several benefits of music.

"Sometimes you can see the physical progress ... and other times it is more subjective," she said.

"It really depends on the goals of the program."

Mr Muggeridge said although Florence couldn't dance or sing, she still responded by waving her arms around and smiling.

"Music is a universal language and with Florence, it motivated her to open her eyes for the first time," he said.

"It was so special."

The music therapy program at the Queensland Children's Hospital is made possible by the Children's Hospital Foundation.



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