News / Health

    Studies Explore Impact of Music and the Brain

    Music therapist Elizabeth Klinger, right, quietly plays guitar and sings for a baby as he grips the hand of his mother in the newborn intensive care unit at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago, May 6, 2013.
    Music therapist Elizabeth Klinger, right, quietly plays guitar and sings for a baby as he grips the hand of his mother in the newborn intensive care unit at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago, May 6, 2013.
    Richard Paul
    Hospitals employ many therapeutic methods.  In addition to medication, there are interventions like massage therapy and hypnosis.  So why use music? 

    “There’s a couple of reasons for music.  One - it’s very inexpensive,” said Dr. Sandra Siedliecki, a senior scientist at the Nursing Institute of Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.  

    Also, she says we’ve done a lot of research on music's impact on pain.

    “Especially Dr. Marian Good who did an awful lot on acute pain and music," she said. "She did a lot of studies looking at abdominal surgery patients and the use of music.”

    In those studies, as in many others, patients listened to relaxing music.

    Good found that her surgery patients took fewer opioids drugs when they listened to music.  Taking fewer drugs is beneficial, Siedliecki says, because pain drugs are limited by their side effects.  

    “You get to the point where one more pill and the side effects aren’t quite worth it,” she said.

    While Good had looked at acute pain, no one had ever studied chronic pain - the kind that just won’t go away.

    “People with chronic pain feel powerless.  They’ve already tried everything," Siedliecki said. "There’s no choices left, so they feel powerless to do anything that’s going to make it better.”

    Siedliecki was looking to address that powerlessness as well as patients’ depression, disability and - of course - pain. 

    Studies Explore Impact of Music and the Brain
    Studies Explore Impact of Music and the Braini
    || 0:00:00
    ...    
     
    X

    For Dr. Linda Chlan the problem wasn’t patients’ pain, it was anxiety.  Chlan, who is a professor of symptom management research in the Nursing School at Ohio State University, has spent a lot of time with people who are in the hospital because they can’t breathe.  People in this condition are often put on mechanical ventilators, and she says, “I was always struck by the profound distress that these patients experience regardless of the amount of medications that we gave them.”

    It wasn’t just that the sedatives sometimes didn’t work, she said, “sometimes they would get more anxious and more anxious.”

    And just like with Siedliecki's pain patients, the drugs these people are taking have nasty side-effects.  

    “We had two primary aims of this study: To reduce anxiety as well as sedative exposure," Chlan said. "If they can control a non-pharmacological intervention in the form of relaxing, preferred music, can that have a beneficial effect?”

    Chlan had nurses remind patients that music was an option and they also posted signs near their beds that said “Listen to your music at least twice today.”

    Another group in her study used noise-cancelling headphones with no music.  A third group got standard care.  Siedliecki's study also had three groups: A standard music group, who listened to music from past studies, another group who were allowed to pick their own music and a group that got standard treatment.  The results were positive in both studies. 

    For Siedliecki's patients “when you look at it overall, power, pain, depression and disability as a group improved in the music groups,” she said.   

    Chlan’s study looked to decrease both the intensity and the frequency of the drugs people had to take.  She also found that music worked.

    “We could reduce anxiety in mechanically-ventilated patients who were in this study, while we could also reduce the amount and the frequency of medication that these patients received,” she said.

    The people who listened to music needed fewer sedative doses and had a 36 percent reduction in the intensity or the amount of medication they received.  In addition, their anxiety was reduced by 36.5 percent.  Both doctors had similar explanations for why music was so successful.

    “Music operates on many levels," said Chlan. "It can be a very powerful distractor in the brain, where we’re listening to something that is pleasing and then it interrupts those stressful thoughts.”

    “Music can be a distraction," Siedliecki said. "And if you’re doing something you enjoy, time seems to go by faster.”

    These doctors seem to agree with that old line from the Bob Marley song, “One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.”

    You May Like

    Saudi Arabia’s New Female Politicians in the Other Room 

    Many in Saudi Arabia say elected representatives should share unsegregated spaces; according to a recent survey, more than half the Saudi population, both men and women, prefer to work in a segregated place

    Russia Not ‘Apologetic’ for Syria Airstrikes

    With Moscow criticized for targeting armed opponents of President Assad, Russia’s UN envoy says his country ‘acting in a very transparent manner’

    Pakistan Warns of Islamic State's Growing Reach

    Aftab Sultan, General Director General of Intelligence Bureau (IB), briefed Senate Committee in closed hearing, saying that IS-linked groups have been expanding in Pakistan

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: 40 years a nurse from: Florida
    December 14, 2013 5:49 PM
    While I have been a nurse for over 40 years and I am happy to see nursing and medicine discover the wonders of the use of music as treatment, I am saddened by the fact that the profession of music therapy is rarely given any credit for the past and continuing research that has and is being done.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.