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Charms to soothe a savage breast

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More than 300 years ago William Congreve wrote: “Musick hath Charms to soothe a savage Breast.” In recent years the medical world has begun to appreciate that listening to music can help patients in stressful healthcare situations. There is now a quarterly peer-reviewed journal called Music and Medicine, which offers “an integrative forum for clinical practice and research related to musical interventions and applications of clinical music strategies in medicine”. Although many of the papers so far published concern small pilot studies, they suggest that music has health benefits.

One study involved critically ill neurotrauma patients who were receiving sedative infusions to treat agitation. Because long-term sedation carries a risk of adverse outcomes, sedation “holidays” are recommended, and it was found that music helped patients to cope without their sedatives.

Another study found that music stimulation was a safe and effective way to alleviate pain and stress in premature infants following heel-stick tests.

And in older adults who display acute confusion after hip or knee surgery, listening to music helps improve cognitive function and reduce confusion.

Another small study found that brain-injured patients who listened to music had improved visual perceptual acuity, cognitive functions and spatial orientation compared with a control group.

Other papers published in the journal indicate that singing or playing wind instruments can help patients with lung and respiratory problems.

Two studies suggest that singing can improve the respiratory status and quality of life of young people with cystic fibrosis or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. And a preliminary study in Australia suggests that didgeridoo playing and singing could benefit aboriginal people with asthma — a disease more common among indigenous than non-indigenous Australians.

Two further studies indicate that people with dementia can cope better with stressful situations if their carers sing or hum while helping them.

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From: Beyond pharmacy blog

Take a look here for thoughts and musings beyond the pharmacy realm

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