Doctors Health Press, a division of Lombardi Publishing Corporation and publisher of various natural health newsletters, books, and reports, including the popular online Doctors Health Press e-Bulletin, is reporting on a new study finding that music can be an effective life-saving intervention in intensive care units (ICUs).
As Doctors Health Press e-Bulletin (http://www.doctorshealthpress.com/general-health-2/how-this-special-therapy-helps-icu-patients) notes, the ICU is reserved for patients with life-threatening illnesses or injuries. These can include accidents that cause internal injuries, infections, complications after surgery, organ failure, and severe breathing problems. The ICU is populated with a special team of medical professionals who have been trained to work as a trauma team.
As the article “How This Special Therapy Helps ICU Patients” reports, because the ICU is filled with an intimidating array of ventilators, heart monitors, catheters, and other specialized equipment, all of which are required to monitor and maintain a patient’s normal body functions, patients who are already physically pushed to their limits can suffer from severe anxiety. Usually, ICU doctors and nurses reach for sedating medications to help patients manage anxiety; however, these drugs can trigger other unwanted symptoms by affecting the heart, either by lowering blood pressure or making it difficult for a patient to think clearly and communicate concerns. This prompted a team of researchers to try out music as an alternative therapy.
The Doctors Health Press e-Bulletin article states that according to a recent study, music is able to ease the worries and intense fears that can accompany a stay in the ICU. In this study, almost 400 patients on breathing machines were divided into three groups. One group was supplied with headphones to listen to their favorite music, a second group wore headphones for the sole purpose of dampening the noise of machines and monitors in the ICU, and a third group received standard treatment.
According to the article, researchers found that the music group was able to reduce their anxiety by almost 40% and their need for anxiety meds by almost 40% when compared to patients on breathing machines who had no music to listen to. Researchers also noted that the music needs to be relaxing; anything with a more aggressive tempo or intensity wasn’t beneficial.
As Doctors Health Press e-Bulletin concludes, these results are significant and attest to the power of music to benefit emotional health and well-being. Music reaches similar places in the brain as anxiety and fear do, so a sort of trade-off occurs, with the pleasurable and calming response to music bumping out the anxiety.
(SOURCES: Taylor, P., “Music eases anxiety of hospital ICU patients, study finds,” Globe and Mail web site, May 21, 2013, last accessed June 4, 2013; “How Music Affects Your Brain,” DNews web site, last accessed June 4, 2013; Chlan, L.L., et al., “Effects of Patient-Directed Music Intervention on Anxiety and Sedative Exposure in Critically Ill Patients Receiving Mechanical Ventilatory Support: A Randomized Clinical Trial,” JAMA. May 20, 2013:1–10.)
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