|Did you know that listening to music, particularly music that we enjoy, causes our brains to release the chemical dopamine? For this reason, music has been correlated with a number of medical gains, such as favourable changes in heart rate, pulse and breathing.|
Hospitals, dentist offices and other medical facilities are using music to positively benefit their patients. It is helping to induce calm, promote relaxation and assist in pain management, just to name a few benefits. For more information on using music to enhance your patient’s experience, and some of the medical benefits that can be achieved with it, read on.
Music and the treatment of medical conditions
Healthcare workers and music therapists alike are treating a slew of illnesses and disorders, and are alleviating some of their negative side effects, with the complementary treatment of music therapy. Below are several conditions and suggestions on incorporating music to treat those afflicted with them:
- ADHD: A Brigham Young study of kids aged seven to seventeen with ADHD showed that listening to three 40-minute recordings of classical music each week changed their brain waves and improved their focus. Promote the benefits of music therapy by providing patients with a CD of rhythmic classics such as Mozart or Haydn in a CD holder imprinted with music therapy resources. These can be distributed at doctors’ offices, therapy centres and support groups.
- Alzheimer’s disease: Music can benefit those afflicted with Alzheimer’s by tapping into past memories and reducing anxiety, pain, heart rate and blood pressure. Consider handing out a recordable CD, along with a list of generational music, to encourage family members to connect with their loved ones in a calm-inducing way.
- Cardiac disease and heart health: Listening to slow, mellow music can positively affect blood pressure and pulse, improve heart function, and reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke by five to fifteen percent. In fact, a case study reported a patient who sang meaningful music was able to lower her blood pressure without medication, resulting in being cleared for surgery.
- Depression: The strong connection between music and emotion makes music therapy an effective complementary approach to treating depression. It has been shown to increase the success seen with psychotherapy as well as to induce relaxation, help in the development of coping skills and improve the patient’s overall state of depression. Pipe relaxing music into your waiting room or give patients the option to grab ear buds and an MP3 player loaded with calming music to listen to while they wait.
- Premature birth: Premature infants need all the energy they can get in order to thrive, and stress can drain that much needed energy. Relaxing music has been shown to calm preemie heart rates and increase oxygen intake as well as formula consumption. A parent’s voice is best so consider providing an in-room binder filled with music and lyrics to popular lullabies rather than piping in instrumental music. Encourage parents to sing these tender tunes to their babies to help them thrive.
- Stroke and brain injury: Many people are unable to speak after a stroke or brain injury. Singing, which uses a different area of the brain than speech, can allow people to communicate through song. Former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was unable to speak after suffering brain damage due to a gunshot wound. But with the help of music therapy, she was able to sing her needs such as, “I want to go to bed” or “I’m tired.”
Remember, music—especially music that we like—can heal.
“(Music therapy) can make the difference between withdrawal and awareness, between isolation and interaction, between chronic pain and comfort, between demoralization and dignity.” — Barbara Crowe, Past President, National Association for Music Therapy
Abrahms, Sally. “The Power of Music: Sounds That Heal.” AARP. N.p., 26 Feb. 2013. Web. 19 May 2013.
Cordes, Helen. “Music Therapy: The Health Benefits of Music.” Parenting.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 May 2013. <>.
“Medical: Taking Note of Music’s Healing Effects.” WFTS. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 May 2013. <>.
Articles. Surviving Depression. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 May 2013.