Central, peripheral, social

Re-conceptualizing neurological trauma and illness

Though it is obviously tempting to consider a person with neurological trauma or illness solely in terms of their neurological functioning, this project aims to find a different balance - one that considers the multiplicity of ways on comprehending and narrating the effects and consequences of the injury to the individual brain and the multiplicity of how everything that that individual has been involved in, and with, is affected. Generative and destructive plasticity demands to be considered in terms of central, peripheral, and social narration. I suggest that rehabilitative actions such as music therapy must consider the plasticity and change as highly individualized, and more extensively multiple than ever before.

The project publications and Recent Talks:


Gilbertson, S. and Aldridge, D. (2008). Music therapy and traumatic brain injury: A light on a dark night. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Book chapters

Gilbertson, S. (2016). Traumatic Brain Injury. In J. Edwards (Ed.) Oxford Handbook of Music Therapy. Chapter 17. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Gilbertson, S. (2015). In the light of day: A real-world perspective on childhood severe traumatic brain injury and music therapy during early neurosurgical rehabilitation. In: C. Dileo (Ed.), Advanced practice in medical music therapy: Case reports, pp. 74-83. Cherry Hills, NJ: Jeffrey Books.


Gilbertson, S. (2013). Improvisation and Meaning. International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-being, 8, pp. 65-74.

Gilbertson, S. (2008).The silent epidemic of road traffic injury: What can music therapists do about it?" Voices: An International forum for music therapy.


Gilbertson, S. (2016). “Clinical application of music therapy in neurorehabilitation” Invited paper, Rīga Stradiņš University: 6th International Interdisciplinary Scientific Conference: Society, Health, Welfare: Living in the World of Diversity: Social Transformations, Innovations, Solutions. 24th November 2013, Riga, Latvia.

Gilbertson, S. (2015). Music therapy, matter and embodied practice in medical education. December 6. Leeds Institute of Medical Education, UK.

See Publications for a full list of publications and talks

Project inertia

A series of publications which include discussions of the need for a re-conceptualization of the understanding and portrayal of neurological trauma and illness that reflects contemporary theory on ecological and extended cognition, embodiment and materiality, and the inseparability of the human regardless of neurological status or physical care environment. What is needed is an understanding of plasticity as central, peripheral, and social.

Project description

This is an ongoing project that through a series of publications and talks considers how contemporary theory on perception, cognition, material engagement, and human and non-living matter affects or should be affecting the re-conceptualization and understanding of how neurological trauma and illness is narrated and enacted in contemporary health care.