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Music Therapy: What Works

Following are results of several influential studies on music therapy:

  • In the treatment of heart disease, music has been used as a pacemaker, helping hearts to achieve proper rhythms in two studies, by Haas in 1980 and Bason in 1992. It also reduces anxiety in heart attack patients. However, there is a relative lack of RCTs on music therapy for heart disease. Furthermore, some studies show that music was no more effective than bed rest for heart patients.

 

  • A 1993 RCT by Dr. Thomas Lord and Dr. Jane Garner of Alzheimer's patients indicated that music therapy enhanced memory of past events and improved mood.

 

  • From a 1994 study by Dr. Karen Allen and Dr. Jim Blascovih, a JAMA article indicated that when music was used in operating rooms, patients had fewer postsurgical complications, with less pain and shorter hospital stays.

 

  • Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease showed significant gains in ability to endure exercise when music therapy was used, according to a 1995 study by Thornby at the New York University School of Medicine.

 

  • Music therapy appears to be quite helpful for chronic pain. In one RCT by Dr. Lani Zimmerman and Dr. Bunny Pozehl in 1989, it reduced not only suffering but also the physical sensation of pain, leading researchers to believe it had directly affected sensory perception. In another study, it apparently raised the pain threshold of rheumatoid arthritis patients.

 

  • A 1997 pilot study funded by NCCAM showed that patients with chronic brain damage responded to music therapy with less depression and more empathy for others. However, their cognitive abilities were unchanged.

 

 

 

 

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From THE BEST ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE: WHAT WORKS? WHAT DOES NOT? by Dr. Kenneth R. Pelletier.

 

Copyright © 2000 by Dr. Kenneth R. Pelletier, Inc.

 

Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc., New York, New York.


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