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

    California Republicans Mull Choices in Presidential Race

    Ted Cruz tells state's Republican Convention delegates campaign will be 'battle on the ground, district by district by district,' ahead of June 7 primary

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, many Kurds are trying to escape turmoil by focusing on success of football team Amedspor

    South African Company Designs Unique Solar Cooker

    Two-man team of solar power technologists introduces Sol4, hot plate that heats up so fast it’s like cooking with gas or electricity

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora