“I think music in itself is healing,” American musician Billy Joel once said. “It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.” Most of us would wholeheartedly agree with this statement, and it is this universal bond with music that has led researchers across the globe to investigate its therapeutic potential.
- Reduces pain and anxiety: By analyzing 72 randomized controlled trials involving more than 7,000 patients who received surgery, researchers found those who were played music after their procedure reported feeling less pain and anxiety than those who did not listen to music, and they were also less likely to need pain medication.
- An effective stress reliever: “Stimulating music produces increases in cardiovascular measures, whereas relaxing music produces decreases,” they explain. “[…] These effects are largely mediated by tempo: slow music and musical pauses are associated with a decrease in heart rate, respiration and blood pressure, and faster music with increases in these parameters.”
- Music and memory: Both the singing and music listening groups not only have better mood and overall well-being, but they demonstrate better episodic memory on cognitive assessments. The singing groups also show better working memory.
- Heling recover brain injuries and treating seizures: Studies have shown that music may aid speech recovery following stroke. One study conducted in 2013 by researchers from Korea, for example, found that stroke patients who developed communication problems after stroke demonstrated improved language ability following 1 month of neurologic music therapy. It has also been suggested that music may help treat epilepsy – a brain disorder characterized by the occurrence of seizures. Conducted by Christine Charyton, of The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, and colleagues, the study found the brains of people with epilepsy showed greater synchronization in response to music – a “surprising” finding. “Persons with epilepsy synchronize before a seizure. However, in our study, patients with epilepsy synchronized to the music without having a seizure.”
- Music therapy should be utilised more in health care settings: Customized music therapy interventions to cope with the offending acoustic exposures can support stabilization of the patient’s symptoms and may, in turn, result in a medication reduction or taper.