Music and Healing

Have you ever wondered about the science behind the benefits of music? Or what about the way in which music alters our perception of what’s going on in the world around us?

Today we are going to take a look at some applications of music and corresponding evidence, in order to understand the way music impacts our healing processes.

Music Therapy
Have you heard of music therapy? It’s a real profession and one that we are incredibly excited about! You may be wondering, “What is music therapy? How does it work?”

Put simply, music therapy is the use of music and rhythm by trained professionals to improve the quality of someone’s life.

Why music? How does music improve the quality of someone’s life? How does music impact us as human beings? If you saw our most recent Instagram post, you know that infants as early as one-day old can detect changes in rhythmic patterns.

Photo courtesy of iStock.

Photo courtesy of iStock.

Music and Infants
While you may have heard of music aiding in brain development in the womb, perhaps the idea of music in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is something new.

The video below is a wonderful example of the work music therapists do within the hospital setting, using the knowledge of music’s profound, universal ability to heal. Music therapist Susan Palmieri works at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center's NICU to foster language and neurodevelopment, as well as facilitate feeding and pain management.

Baby Miles Giese feeds during a music therapy session at PeaceHealth Southest Medical Center.  Photo courtesy of Amanda Cowan/The Columbian.

Baby Miles Giese feeds during a music therapy session at PeaceHealth Southest Medical Center. Photo courtesy of Amanda Cowan/The Columbian.

In the case of her patient Miles, she soothes him with their Song of Kin in order to remind him it’s time to calm down for feeding. Then, she uses what is known as the Gato Box in order to mimic the heartbeat and help the infant pace his suckling, swallowing and breathing during the feeding. She watches Miles’s vital signs as a form of biofeedback in order to ensure she is not overstimulating him.

You can also read more about the effects of music therapy on premature infants here.

When looking at the effects of music on our health, it is sometimes hard to tell whether or not the benefits are directly correlated or pure coincidence. That’s why more and more research is being done to actually quantify the benefits of music with evidence-based studies. Check out some of the following links for more inspirational information by the American Music Therapy Association.