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Many Uses of Music in Hospitals

March 24th, 2010 · 2 Comments · Music in the Hospital

As many of you know, I have worked in a full-service medical – surgical hospital in Louisville, Kentucky. There is not a single area of this hospital (or any hospital) that could not benefit from having music incorporated in some specific well-thought-out way. And I don’t mean just having MUSAK piped in! I believe that most people today find that more offensive than enjoyable. You’ve heard of the law of diminishing returns? When pre-recorded piped-in music was first invented everyone thought it was great: soothing, relaxing, calming.

Now, most people detest it and find that it makes their blood pressure go up and their tempers flare. In a hospital, the ideal is to use personalized music, offered to patients as well as those in the waiting areas through clean headphones, much like those that are offered on international flights. There could be a CD library available or audio equipment embedded in the seats to plug into for a choice of music selections.

This not only allows people to relax with the kind of music they enjoy, but it also blocks out the disconcerting sounds of overhead paging, ambulances arriving, and people calling out, crying, etc. There are literally hundreds of studies documenting the effectiveness of music with surgery, pain management, childbirth, oncology, chemo and radiation. In the area of Behavioral Health, or Psychiatry as it used to be called, the benefits of using music with patients who are depressed, anxious, or chemically dependent on drugs or alcohol, are enormous. This is something that I do everyday and the rewards are one of the great joys of my job. Playing the piano for depressed patients and seeing their faces light up when they hear “You’ve Got a Friend” or “I’ll Be Loving You Always” is just something that I wouldn’t miss for the world.

I also particularly enjoy helping people pick out their music for surgery and have now created wireless, pre-programmed headphones with three distinct tracks:   one for the waiting area, one for the operating table and one for the recovery room. People tell me time after time that the process of having the headphones, distracted them from worrying about the outcome as much as they might have otherwise. Having music  in the recovery area let them know, for sure, that they had survived the surgery and were listening to the music that they had chosen. One lady felt that her music saved her life because the recovery room was so noisy and the nurses were rattling papers and talking so loudly!

In summary, if you must be in a hospital feel free to write to me and ask how you might incorporate music in your care. Or stop now and order my hospital headphones:  www.surgicalheadphones.com.  They come pre-programmed with the ideal music for surgery or can be loaded with your favorite music!

About Author Dr. Alice Cash: Helping people to use music for Healing and Wellness. Dr. Cash stresses the use of music for health, learning, motivation, relaxation, energy building, or well-being. She is known internationally for her work with music and pregnancy, surgery, addictions, and Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Cash can be reached through Healing Music Enterprises. (www.healingmusicenterprises.com)

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2 Comments so far ↓

  • The Daily Decibel

    We would caution that if music is used, the right parameters be used to optimize patient recovery. We’ve found that the best music would be classical intermezzo without any drum (percussion) at all. Especially important in considering the best music to pipe in are slow tempo, pleasant harmony, volume, quality of audio, and overall agreeable choice of music. In other words, music agreeable to the soul. In other words, Bach instead of Black-Eyed Peas.

  • Dr. Alice Cash

    I couldn’t agree more. I’ve spent nearly 20 years in the field of clinical musicology choosing the music that I now recommend. I’m sure we’re in agreement about all of this. Thank you for commenting!

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