There really is truth to the saying music soothes the soul, so much so that it is now recognized as a form of therapy. Music therapy is a recognized and accepted form of therapy, music stimulates so many parts of the brain as well as the emotions it can actually lower your blood pressure and heart rate. There are many ways music therapy can be utilized by a trained and certified music therapist, whether you are making music or listening to it, the benefits can be amazing.
What is Music Therapy and How is it Used?
The definition of music therapy according to the medical dictionary; it is a method of accompanying medicine that utilizes music as a therapeutic treatment method prescribed by a trained and certified therapist for patients to help them overcome emotional, social, intellectual and physical handicaps.
Music therapy has been utilized in numerous ways; to reduce stress, it can promote healing and well being, and it has even been used as a special form of therapy for people suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. It is a means of expression and this can be very helpful in treating children with autism as well. Of course the benefits of music therapy is still under study, but the areas of it’s healing properties is expanding rapidly as more and more therapies are being utilized for different treatment purposes. For example researchers at Beth Israel Medical Center’s Louis Armstrong Center for Music and Medicine used three different forms of music for a study of 272 premature babies in eleven Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs). The music therapy consisted of: the parents selecting and singing a lullaby to their baby; a gato box which is a drum-like instrument which produces simulated heartbeat rhythms; and an “ocean disc” which is a round instrument that creates sounds that mimic the sounds heard in the womb.
What The Research Shows
The lead author of the study, Joanne Loewy, stated that the research results showed that the babies responded to all three forms of music in lowering the heart rate of the babies, with the lullaby being the most effective. The babies also remained contentedly alert for longer periods of time when being sang to. As for the other two music forms used, the gato box improved the suckling behavior in the babies and the ocean disc instrument had an improvement in the babies sleep. An added benefit the study showed was that the stress levels of the parents decreased as a result of the music therapy.
Another recent study published by JAMA Pediatrics in July, 2013 indicated that there is a link between music and reducing stress and anxiety levels in pediatric patients. The study included 42 children from the age of three to eleven who were being treated in pediatric emergency rooms. Researchers found that the children who listened to soothing, relaxing type music during an IV insertion demonstrated less anxiety and reported markedly less pain than the patients who did not receive music therapy.
An additional benefit was that two-thirds of the doctors and nurses administering the IVs stated the patients who received music therapy were much easier to administer, in contrast to the 38 percent of the other health care providers treating the patients who did not receive music therapy.
There is mounting scientific evidence that music therapy provides relief to patients suffering from illnesses with debilitating and/or constant pain. And the research is continuing and expanding all the time, the latest studies being conducted are in an area of the brain involving the thalamus and the outer cortex which researchers believe has a role in severely debilitating and even fatal diseases such as fibromyalgia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s. Early results are very promising and are bringing new hope to the patients and families of those afflicted by these crippling diseases.
Though there is still much work and research to be concluded on the healing properties of music therapy and its applications scientific evidence and progress is steadily being made. If you or a loved one is suffering from any of the above mentioned illnesses you may want to consider seeking out a licensed and trained music therapist as an additional weapon in fighting the disease.