Music therapy helps surgery patients recover

Credit: Morguefile
Findings from a new study show patients given music therapy before, during and after surgery have less pain and shorter recovery time.

The research is important and shows a non-drug approach from listening to music can reduce anxiety, calm and reduce a patient’s perception of pain.

Patients in the study reported higher satisfaction with their medical experience and required less sedatives and pain medication when they were exposed to music.

Lori Gooding, UK director of music therapy and lead author on the review said in a press release, "Here at UK, our music therapists regularly use music-based interventions to help patients manage both pain and anxiety.”

To facilitate healing from surgery, therapists suggest letting the patient choose which type of music they enjoy.

But the music also has to have certain characteristics and be chosen by trained personnel to have the desired effect. Giving patients a choice from several playlists is recommended.

For music to have a positive effect on healing, it’s important for choose the right tempo and rhythm. Volume control is also a consideration, the researchers note. 

Pain and anxiety are reduced when music is slow, gentle and calm. The University of Kentucky, UK  researchers, who reviewed studies for the finding, suggest stays in intensive care units might be shorter with music therapy.

Music therapists speculate that live music might be even better than recordings to help patients manage pain and anxiety.

Gooding and her team have implemented two pilot programs in the UK, based on the study findings.

“Our goal is to decrease patient pain and anxiety as well as improve satisfaction with the surgical experience," Gooding said in a media release. "We also hope the program benefits staff by allowing them to do their jobs more easily and effectively.”

Results of the music therapy program for reducing pain and distress among pediatric patients will be presented in 2013 by Gooding and her colleague Olivia Yinger at the International Symposium on Pediatric Pain in Sweden.

The finding shows music therapy might help reduce health care costs; improve patient satisfaction and aid healing for patients undergoing surgery. A past study suggests music can have a protective effect against heart disease. 

A study published last April in the journal Music Medicine found music benefits for critically ill patients on artificial (ventilator) life support.

Music in the operating room is also shown to help your surgeon perform better

Findings from the review show patients exposed to music before, during and after surgery experience less pain, need fewer sedatives and are calmer. 

Gooding, Lori; Swezey, Shane; Zwischenberger, Joseph B.
Southern Medical Journal. 105(9):486-490, September 2012.
doi: 10.1097/SMJ.0b013e318264450c