Music as medicine: Docs use tunes as treatment

By | June 2, 2009

heart_musicAs Victor Fabry napped in his hospital bed, a quiet symphony filled his room. The steady pulse of a cardiac monitor marked the progress of his mending heart. Over that beat, the swaying strains of a Brazilian guitarist pumped nearly nonstop from a CD player on the shelf.

For nine days after his surgery at the Gagnon Cardiovascular Institute in Morristown, N.J., Fabry soaked up that tranquil, wordless strumming. And while he praised his surgeon, he raved about the musical score that accompanied his recovery.

His heart literally fell in rhythm with guitarist Tomaz Lima. The music became his medicine.

“Very restful, very soothing,” said Fabry, 68, now almost two years removed from the surgery. Immediately after his operation, a live harpist also played at his bedside. “The mind influences your recovery. Anything that quiets your anxiety is powerful.”

Listen carefully and you’ll hear the same refrain at a rising number of hospitals. From Massachusetts General to the Mayo Clinic, patients are hearing the first strains of a harmonious movement — the infusion and inclusion of music in the treatment of ailments, from brain disorders to cancer. This goes beyond the psychological smile favorite songs can induce.

Doctors are increasingly studying — and employing — the physiological dance music does with the body’s neurons and blood-carrying cells.

“We’re in the infancy,” said Dr. Ali Rezai, director of the Center for Neurological Restoration at Ohio’s Cleveland Clinic. During a surgery called deep brain stimulation — performed while patients with Parkinson’s disease are awake — Rezai and his team play classical compositions and measure the brain’s response to those notes. “We know music can calm, influence creativity, can energize. That’s great. But music’s role in recovering from disease is being ever more appreciated.”

via Music as medicine: Docs use tunes as treatment – Health care-

I noticed that after an entire day of working on the same song in my studio that my heart was exactly synchronized to the beat. It startled me to realize this.

One thought on “Music as medicine: Docs use tunes as treatment

  1. Inge Mulvad

    The subject of ’music as medicine’ has achieved very much attention in recent years, mainly because of the remarkable research in this area.
    With this comment I just want to contribute with a bit of information about the specially designed and clinically documented music program ‘MusiCure-music as medicine’ by the Danish composer Niels Eje. As project coordinator and musician (cello) I have been involved in both the creation and the research, which have been going on in Scandinavia since 1998. Controlled clinical tests and studies have, among a lot of other positive effects, shown that MusiCure can reduce our body’s production of stress hormone cortisol significantly, and diminish the use of pain medicine (morphine) in school-aged children who had undergone surgery – and generally provide inspiration and motivation to people seeking a tool for relaxation and stress relief in everyday life.
    For more information see: (the research behind the music) and (about the music and the composer) – see also a concentrated version of the whole story about MusiCure in a 5 minute documentary at YouTube:

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