Readers of this blog likely already use music for therapeutic purposes, but it has recently reached a certain critical mass as a fully mainstream trend. Today’s news highlights several examples of practitioners at several levels taking advantage of music therapy.
Some evidence is showing music’s salubrious effect on prematurely born babies. A study conducted at Beth Israel Medical Center, the findings of which were published in Pediatrics, found that live music can have benefits for premature babies. Music therapists cooperating with the hospital reworked popular songs into lullabies to soothe the babies. They found that, when exposed to live music—played or sung—the infants’ heartbeats slowed, their breathing became calmer, and they improved sucking behaviors. Overall, music relaxed the infants and, according to anecdotal evidence, infants exposed to live music tended to leave the hospital sooner.
In Ottawa, music therapist Cheryl Jones has founded her own music therapy practice. She primarily works with people who have suffered from brain injury or neurodegenerative disorders and her goal is to help her clients improve cognition, motor skills, self-expression, or whatever would help them improve their quality of life. Jones states that music therapy is “like sneaking in through the back door” of the brain to activate different neural pathways and stimulate the mind.
Finally, a professor at the University of Iowa has begun to offer music therapy to patients with dementia. Although Professor Mary Adamek had been working with music therapy for years, she recently was offered a grant to increase the scope of her practice. Professor Adamek, along with some of her students, visited a nursing home to engage some of its denizens in music therapy. They reported that the people were very reactive and engaged, although many of the elderly were typically non-verbal or otherwise unexpressive.