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The Effectiveness of Biomusic as a Communication Tool for Individuals with Communication Barriers

10 August 2019


Background: Many family members and care providers are unable to communicate with their loved ones and may feel distanced from them due to severe disabilities or injuries that create a communication barrier. Current methods of communication are either obscure and subjective interpretations of body gestures, or technologies that require a certain level of cognition, bodily movement, and functionality to operate. Biomusic is a novel technology that could allow for communication as well as identification of certain emotional states for those that have communication barriers.

Methods: An exhaustive literature search was conducted using MEDLINE-Ovid, Evidence-Based Medicine Multifile, Proquest, MEDLINE-PubMed, NCBI, Google Scholar, Health and Wellness Resource Center, CINAHL, Web of Science, and Cochrane using the following search terms: biomusic, children, anxiety, autism, communication disorders, communication barriers, developmental disorders, disabled persons, personhood, affective technology design, NOT music therapy. GRADE criteria were then employed to analyze the quality of the studies.

Results: There were 195 articles that were found. Only 2 studies met the eligibility criteria. The first study reviewed was a pilot study that functioned as proof of concept for biomusic and revealed potential for biomusic to create meaningful communication and re-establish personhood. The second study demonstrated that biomusic could be used to determine anxious or relaxed states in typically developing children and children with autism spectrum disorder quickly (within 11.3 seconds), and with high accuracy.

Conclusion: The field of biomusic is still in its infancy and more research needs to be performed to determine the abilities and limits of biomusic. The abilities of biomusic to determine emotional states is promising and the studies showed that it can be used reliably. Furthermore, biomusic can be used to re-establish more meaningful interactions between individuals with communication barriers and their care providers.


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