The Therapeutic Effects of Music
Music is one of the quintessential art forms in human history. Rhythms, melodies and tones have been created and appreciated by humans since prehistoric times. And this phenomenon is much more than merely aesthetic in nature – many traditional medicines around the world continue to resort to this form of artistic expression to heal the mind and the body. In contemporary medical science, music enjoys the status of a powerful and empirically-proven therapeutic tool that can improve patient outcomes in a wide array of diseases. Music therapy is particularly valuable as adjuvant therapy.
Music and depression
Scientists have found that music helps ward off depressive symptoms and boost self-esteem in behaviorally and emotionally maladapted children and young adolescents. 251 youngsters—aged between 8 and 16—participated in a 3-year-long study, which was the largest of its kind at the time. The study was financed by the Big Lottery Fund, and carried out by the Queen's University Belfast and Bournemouth University. The children were separated in two groups: one group received conventional treatment without music therapy while the other received conventional treatment with music therapy. In addition to the clearly uplifting effects on children, scientists discovered that music therapy improved social functioning and helped those aged 13 and older to interact better with others. This was the first randomized clinical trial where the therapeutic effects of music on children were documented.
Music and pain
A 2017 study involving 60 spine surgery patients showed that personalized music therapy helps alleviate post-surgery pain. The groundbreaking study was a collaboration between researchers from the Mount Sinai Department of Orthopaedics and The Louis Armstrong Center for Music and Medicine in the USA. It involved professional music therapists, who provided custom-tailored music programs to 30 patients. These 30 patients who received professional music therapy in addition to standard care displayed a marked reduction of subjective pain perception (measured through a visual analog scale for pain) compared to the group treated without the aid of music.
Another study conducted back in 2011 in Spain also documented pain relieving effects of music on fibromyalgia patients.
Music and heart disease
Numerous studies have documented the capacity of music to lower blood pressure and improve heart rate. These effects positively impact people who suffer from myocardial infarction and other heart diseases. In conjunction with its well-documented ability to alleviate anxiety, music therapy seemingly has the potential to improve the prognosis of heart disease patients to a clinically significant degree.