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30 Sep

Music Therapy: The art of healing

Music Therapy: The art of healing

Music has charms to soothe a savage beast, but can it help your medical recovery?

If new studies are correct the answer is yes. Surgical patients who listen to music — even while they are under general anesthesia — have less anxiety and need less pain medication during recovery than those who do not, a large review of studies has found. Researchers pooled the data from 73 randomized clinical trials focusing on the role of music among surgery patients. Researcher Dr. Catherine Meads at Brunel University told NPR:

"As the studies themselves were small, they really didn't find all that much… But once we put them all together, we had much more power to find whether music worked or not. Music is a non-invasive, safe, and inexpensive intervention that can be delivered easily and successfully."

Compared with regular care, music was associated with a 20 percent reduction in postoperative pain, a 10 percent reduction in anxiety and a significant reduction in the use of pain medication. It increased patient satisfaction slightly, but did not affect length of hospital stay.

When we listen to music, the brain is constantly trying to predict the musical structure based on universal, cultural and individual musical rules. So  when evaluating the effect of music applications it is necessary to consider whether the intervention is aimed at features that are universal, depend on musical enculturation, or whether it relies on individual and maybe even situational factors.

Have you ever tested the theory of music therapy? If so, did you feel your recovery was accelerated?

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