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

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level More

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.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid