While it may sound rather New Age or at least outlandish, music does more than “soothe the savage breast.” It actually does have powers to help you improve your health. Individuals suffering from various diseases or illnesses who listen to music may benefit from these sessions.
What Does Music Do?
Music plays a role in everyday life. It is capable of accomplishing different aims—many of them contribute to improved or continued physical and mental health.
In fact, music is being considered seriously as part of ways to reduce health costs. While it is currently part of many forms of musical therapy, particularly for those with mental health issues, it has a vast potential in other areas of health.
Today, many researchers believe music may be more than therapeutic but can also act as a potent type of medicine. While research is still in its beginning stages, the case of Gabrielle Gifford, the United States Congresswoman who was shot in the head and suffered extensive brain damage, has increased interest. ABC’s show 20/20 provided footage that showed how music formed an integral and important part of her rehabilitation process.
In order to help Gifford stimulate her brain, music therapists used simple and more complex songs. Such tunes as “Yankee Doodle” acted upon various parts of her brain to help her retrieve words. Musical compositions were also behind her motivation to get her right arm to function. Music became part of her healing and recovery process. This is similar to research currently being performed by Takako Fujioka and Bernhard Ross at the Rotman Research Institute in Baycrest. They are studying how specific beats and music are capable of motivating the brains of recovering stroke victims and are exploring how music can be used to help them recover physical movement.
In North America, several centers are combining music and medicine in a variety of ways, such as Cleveland’s Center for Music and Medicine located at the Neurological Institute in the University Hospital. In New York, you can visit the Louis Armstrong Center for Music and Medicine, part of the Beth Israel Medical Center. These mainly focus on music therapy—music used primarily to help an individual’s mental health. In Toronto, Ontario, Canada, however, the Music and Health Research Collaboratory at the University of Toronto, is intended to have a more medical focus. Some of the research to be considered is that performed by Heidi Ahonen. She is a music therapist of Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. She found that sound played at a low frequency to patients who have Parkinson’s were positively affected. It actually reduced their symptoms. The same principle has been applied by researchers at the Wasser pain clinic of Mount Sinai Hospital. Music has been found to help patients with fibromyalgia go to sleep. It also acts to decrease their pain.
Music may be the food of love, but it also provides food for medical thought. Ongoing research is helping to show how music is not just for listening. Music is capable of helping you remain healthy or recover your health. If you want to live a long healthy life, add music to diet and exercise.