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Music Therapy: Innovation in Coping with Ailments

Submitted by on March 15, 2013 – 10:47 PM

Music-TherapyWhen was the last time you listened to some nice lilting music of your choice? Did it flood your senses with a sense of warmth you had been yearning for? I can sure imagine your heads nodding in affirmation as you read this! One doesn’t need to be a die-hard music lover to appreciate the soulfulness of a nice song or some relaxing tune.


All of us have at one point  or  another ,resorted towards listening to coral renditions, be it to overcome depressive phases, get distracted from the “all and sundry”of our mundane routine or exercising to an upbeat tune. The idea is to feel good and find solace in those magical notes of sound.


In light of its healing prowess, music found its way into the world of medicine. As early as World War I music was used to help disabled soldiers in veteran administration hospitals. Soon after, music therapy was integrated as a formal discipline in the western world and the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) was eventually founded in 1950. To date, researchers and health professionals are exploring the role of music therapy in alleviating an array of ailments.


Classical music, known for its soft notes melting into synchronous  has created a therapeutic niche for itself. Researchers at the Florida Atlantic University College of Nursing studied the role of music therapy on a group of chronic osteoarthritis sufferers. It was found that the participants’ pain levels decreased because they were distracted by the music. Likewise, Joanne Loewy, director of music therapy at the Beth Israel Medical Centre, New York, employs music to slow patients’ breathing and heart rate as muscles synchronize to the beat of music, promoting relaxation.


“Music also lowers serum cortisol levels in the blood”, claim researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston. Cortisol is an integral component of the Hypothalamic- Pituitary-Adrenal axis and accelerates metabolic activity, suppresses the immune system and is strongly linked to anxiety and depression. Studies have also accentuated the cortisol-lowering effects of therapeutic music on post-operative patients, enhancing their ability to heal. A Stanford Study on depressed older individuals also showed promising results, by redefining the healing property of music as a harbinger of hope and psychosomatic support in the field of Geriatric medicine.


This amazing concept of healing is constantly being investigated and research is underway to establish music therapy as a safe, inexpensive and non-pharmacological complement to treatment, be it to reduce pain and anxiety in patients under the surgeon’s scalpel, or women undergoing the process of childbirth in labor rooms. I wrap this up, hoping that one fine day, music therapy will find its way in the rehabilitation and recovery process of patients in a developing country like ours too.



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