How Music Therapy Can Help People with Chronic Illnesses: Music can serve many purposes. We use music to distract ourselves from the morning commute, unwind from a stressful day or as fuel for a grueling workout. While most everyone can agree that music evokes an emotional response from a listener, many people underestimate the therapeutic qualities music has to offer.
Music therapy is a form of treatment in which a trained professional uses music to advance the mental, physical, and emotional well being of a patient. Therapy sessions may involve a patient performing, writing, or listening to music.
In a recent article published by the Harvard Health Blog, executive editor Beverly Merz explores the impact music therapy has on the mental and physical health of individuals, especially those living with chronic illness. Research suggests that music therapy can help individuals living with the following illnesses:
How Music Therapy Can Help People with Chronic Illnesses - Cancer
Chemotherapy and radiotherapy are two common treatments for someone living with cancer. Unfortunately, the side effects that come with these treatments can be overwhelming and sometimes debilitating. Listening to music can help suppress nausea and vomiting brought on by chemotherapy, as well as reduce anxiety commonly associated with the treatment.
How Music Therapy Can Help People with Chronic Illnesses - AIDS
Patients living with AIDS often experience chronic pain caused by arthritis. Fortunately, studies show that patients who participate in musical therapy experienced a decrease in pain perception, as well as a reduced need for pain medication. Music therapy can also help relieve symptoms of depression brought on by the diagnosis of HIV or AIDS.
How Music Therapy Can Help People with Chronic Illnesses - Dementia
The main characteristics seen in dementia patients are memory loss and behavioral change. Patients suffering from dementia are often easily agitated by their inability to effectively communicate with others. However, even in the late stages of dementia, patients still have the ability to engage with music, which can help reduce agitation, assist in communication, and improve physical coordination. Additionally, listening to a familiar or favorite song may help a patient recall certain memories.
How Music Therapy Can Help People with Chronic Illnesses - Stroke
The effects of a stroke can damage the left region of an individual’s brain, which is responsible for speech. This is why some patients have difficulty communicating after suffering a stroke. Since singing ability is found in the right side of the brain, music therapists often incorporate singing exercises into a patient’s rehabilitation.