Elizabeth Landau shines a light on music therapy and therapist Brian Jantz:
Jantz is one of two music therapists at Boston Children’s Hospital, where the idea of using music to help patients as young as premature babies in the neonatal intensive care unit has taken off in the last decade. Jantz and his colleague have scheduled visits with patients in almost every unit but will come to a melodic rescue in urgent situations.
“We kind of joke around, ‘It’s like a music emergency,’ but it really is,” Jantz said. “It really can be like, ‘This patient needs music therapy right now.’ “
Music became a legitimate form of therapy in the last century, helping veterans from the two world wars recover from physical and psychological injuries. In this century studies have demonstrated how music therapy works:
There is scientific research to back up the idea that music has healing properties. A 2013 analysis by Daniel Levitin, a prominent psychologist who studies the neuroscience of music at McGill University in Montreal, and his colleagues highlighted a variety of evidence: for instance, one study showed music’s anti-anxiety properties, another found music was associated with higher levels of immunoglobin A, an antibody linked to immunity.
The brain’s reward center responds to music — a brain structure called the striatum releases the chemical dopamine, associated with pleasure. Food and sex also have this effect. The dopamine rush could even be comparable to methamphetamines, Robert Zatorre, professor of neurology and neurosurgery at Montreal Neurological Institute, told CNN last year.
Beyond that, music presents a nonthreatening tool for interventions that is already attractive to patients, Jantz said.
“On the surface it works because, in some way, everyone relates to music,” Jantz said. “Music really is universal.”
Music therapists often work nonverbally, which is why the method is particularly effective for individuals with verbal expression difficulties, such as children with autism, Else said. The profession helps people at every age, from babies to Alzheimer’s patients.
Read the rest of Elizabeth Landau’s article here.
Previous posts on the medicinal value of music on The PediaBlog here.
(Image: Yahoo! Images)