The Power of Music in Health––Heritage Park Surgical Hospital

The Power of Music in Health

Courtesy Heritage Park Surgical Hospital

After a surgery, there is a period of healing needed. Many have researched the power of music in healing and body regulation. Music was recognized for its therapeutic value as far back as in Biblical times. David was summoned to play for King Saul to help chase away “evil spirits.” Music is known today for its ability to affect mood, trigger memories and foster loving associations. In this century, even in this decade, the impact of music on humans has been studied by a variety of fields to understand the impact it has on the body, mind and spirit.

Music means different things to people. According to one source, music is “an art form whose medium is sound.” When most people think of “music,” they probably think about songs they hear either at a concerto, on the radio, during their favorite television shows or at their child’s piano recital. Another version of music is the rhythmic sounds that occur in nature. A newborn baby can be soothed back to sleep using a soundtrack with sounds from the womb. Nature CDs with the sounds of a rainforest or rain storm are currently available for purchase at many stores, proving that humans crave the sounds made by the Earth as well as sounds made by humans.

One study performed by two German doctors from Hannover Medical School’s Department of Neuroradiology monitored stress hormones, blood pressure and heart beat, finding that music reduced stress in patients undergoing cerebral angiography. The patients that were not exposed to music showed rising levels of cortisol in their blood, indicating high stress levels, while cortisol in patients examined with music remained stable. Blood pressure was also significantly lower listening to music.

These results are so promising that more studies have been done on the use of music therapy to reduce heart failure events in cardiovascular disease patients, improve respiration and oxygenation in pre-term infants, improve digestive function and efficiency, increase metabolism, and improve cholesterol and total lipid profiles in athletes. There is no doubt that music impacts our physical health and well-being.

From a psychological perspective, there is evidence that music, particularly classical music, causes comfort in our minds. Other studies show that music has the ability to help organize the brain, which is especially vital to those who are plagued with Alzheimer’s. Just after 20 minutes of music, patients started showing observable effects, such as singing, foot tapping and clapping. The positive effects lasted for several hours afterward. These included elevated mood, increased socialization and appetite and reduction in agitation. These are attributed to the “cognitive workout” that the brain receives while listening to music.

The effects of music on those with Alzheimer’s and dementia are promising. Study after study has shown that loved ones were able to connect to the one who is lost in their own mind. One man expressed that when he played a particular song and danced with his wife, it was as though they went back to a time before she had dementia to when they were both happy.

Using music to lift your spirit is definitely not anything new or different. People turn on the radio every day to listen to their favorite songs because it brings them joy. In the same ways music influences your body and your mind, it can affect your mood.

Incorporating music into your therapy as a supplemental strategy can be quite simple. You first want to pick songs that are familiar to you or the patient. Create a playlist for ease with those songs on it. One suggestion is to use a service or app like Spotify or Pandora. To take it further, make music together by singing or playing instruments. Making music results in more self-esteem, better moods, less depression and a greater quality of life. But music therapy is a little more than just listening to the radio or going to choir class. You have to use it intentionally for it to be therapeutic. Will just being around music help? Sure it will, but using it on purpose to reach a desired outcome will make it that much more impactful.

Music has, for centuries, brought people together, calmed them, helped them study and remember information, and healed them. The next time you listen to music, take note of how it makes you feel. The rhythmic sounds of big band, the energizing drums in pop, and the soothing smooth piano runs in classical music––they all affect you: body, mind and spirit.

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