Music Therapy

Medical Music Therapy refers to the use of music therapy strategies in the treatment of illness and the maintenance of health. Music therapists help patients in acute care, surgery, rehabilitation, and recovery -- and often work in the areas of oncology (cancer treatment), physiatry (especially traumatic brain injury and stroke rehab), neonatology (premature infants), and pain management. Music therapists can also be a part of hospice care, providing service to patients and their families.

Eight Reasons To Use Music in Medical Settings

to positively affect biomedical or psychosocial states (music can work as an audio-analgesic, sedative, stimulant, or neural "trigger" for movement).
Example: a patient with chronic pain is taught to use music to (a) decrease the physiological results of stress, (b) distract attention from pain, and/or (c) alter the perception of time towards a decreased perception of pain. OR pediatric patients participate in a music therapy group which boosts their immune systems' effectiveness.

to serve as a focus of attention while structuring exercise or other physical exertion.
Example: a woman uses music in labor and delivery that has been programmed according to her preferences and choice of birthing technique OR a patient uses music as a structure and motivation for physical therapy exercises

to initiate and enhance therapist/patient/family relationships.
Example: a therapist develops a trusting relationship with an adolescent by sharing in his favorite music OR a teenage (or otherwise "at-risk") mother is taught to nurture her child (before and after birth) through music.

to reinforce learning that is important for recovery & maintenance of health.
Example: a child is taught a self-care routine by a therapist who has embedded the steps in a song. OR a group of patients compose a song together that which reinforces the principles of health care they must learn.

to provide auditory stimulation/feedback or mask ambient noise.
Example: a patient learns to control muscle tension (or other physiological stress indicators) through biofeedback - using music as the auditory cue. OR music played in an intensive care nursery unit masks mechanical and electronic sounds.

to structure pleasurable and positive interpersonal interactions.
Example: the members of patient/family support groups utilize lyric discussion, songwriting, singing and instrumental improvisation to increase their trust and cooperation with each other and with the facilitator. OR a patient who is disoriented and agitated is able to have a positive interaction with family members by singing familiar music together.

to serve as a reinforcer or structure for healthful changes in physiological, emotional, or lifestyle skills.
Example: a patient learns to play the piano - as an outlet for expression, and as an active alternative to more passive activities OR persons participating in exercise groups find them easier if music that is synchronized to their movements is used in the background.

to promote stress reduction/mind-body health in the medical staff.
Example: the staff on a burn unit attend inservices to learn to use music for stress reduction - and stress reduction sessions are offered by the music therapist 15 minutes before each shift.

Click here for some recommended books on topics related to music in medicine.






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