The Ronnie Gardiner Rhythm Music Method
Ronnie Gardiner is a pioneer in his field. A dancing, smiling and healing pioneer who has been turning stroke survivors’ lives around for nearly 20 years.
Today, the 78-year-old hosts lectures around the world, from Stockholm to Tel Aviv, educating facilitators about his special brand of music therapy. The RGRM Method uses music, rhythm, sound, and color-code rehabilitation techniques in a classroom setting to stimulate and improve mobility, reading, speech, self-esteem, body image, motor skills and more.
The multisensory method is often used to help patients with brain injuries and central nervous system disorders by combining audio, visual and tactile elements and kinetic energy with rhythm, music and movement codes.
Music therapy stems from the idea that damaged pathways in the brain can sometimes be retrained to act how they once did. It’s the same idea linking playing cards and memory improvement in dementia patients. Stroke survivors have credited the RGRM Method for helping them move and even walk again.
“A man who had a stroke 20 years ago had been unable to read a newspaper or book. He was 80 years old when he started training with me,” nurse and RGRM teacher Carina Svahn says. “Now he reads the newspaper every day and he plows through thick books without the least difficulty.”
Gardiner’s home base is in Sweden and though the RGRM Method has been successfully used in Europe for more than 15 years, acknowledgment in the U.S. is slow going, RGRM coordinator Mike Martin says.
“Likely this is because of how our medical system runs and the fact that most therapies are insurance-driven,” he says.
Martin arranges speaking engagements and training sessions for facilitators, aiming to further American acceptance of the therapy and recruit stroke survivors in the U.S.
According to Martin, more than 75 percent of all participants show gains in a number of areas—whether it’s socialization, depression, balance or reduced use of medications.
Professionals say the therapy’s rehabilitation benefits include improved creativity, energy and confidence, and even helping adults and children overcome learning disabilities.
“The biggest gain that everyone talks about is having a sense of belonging,” says Martin. “Unlike one-on-one physical or occupational therapy sessions, RGRM maintains an emphasis on small groups. We feel it’s very necessary for a stroke survivor to know they are not alone.”