We have an easy puzzle for you! What could reduce epileptic seizures, decrease depression levels and improve cognition for Alzheimer patients without a single dose of medication? There’s no magic applied, it’s “just” the incredible healing power of music. Let us further stun you how music and musical therapy facilitate healing; and how digital health can leverage the power of silver-toned melodies.

Talking about music is like dancing about architecture – but how about its power?

No wonder the above quote became so popular. The keyboard is just too dull to express in black-and-white letters what music means. Rhythm, beat, smooth harmonies or rough tunes, tickling voices calling to dance or a sad saxophone inviting to remember lost girlfriends. Perhaps the power of music illustrates better how deep down well-placed melodies struck a chord in us, humans.

A study in connection with the Mozart effect showed that listening to Mozart’s Sonata for two pianos in D major, K.448, reduced epileptic seizures in South Korean children. Another research showed how depression levels of 50 older adults living in Singapore were decreased significantly after having listened to their choice of music for 30 minutes per week. That’s not even an entire Beyoncé album distributed for seven days! Moreover, listening to music or singing old songs improves cognition for Alzheimer patients significantly – they wander off less frequently, and their self-esteem rises.

Dr. János Kollár, a Hungarian clinical psychologist, music therapist, trainer and assistant professor of Semmelweis University, Institute of Behavioural Sciences told The Medical Futurist how he managed to move an autistic girl out of her own, very enclosed world with the help of a keyboard synthesizer. He explained how music therapy supports the healing process and in many cases, offers the out-of-the-box healing method when nothing else brings relief.

Music and digital health
Source: www.health.harvard.edu

As technologies could boost the easy access and spread of music for therapeutic purposes, we collected the many ways, in which digital solutions could help music build its beneficial impact.

The power of music in therapy

The concept of music therapy has a thousand-years-old history – The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine from 2600 BC contained long passages about pieces of music for finding balance and cognitive-mental health. The method resurfaced many times during history. However, Western medicine has not recognized and incorporated it until the first half of the 20th century. The canonization of the method happened around that time. Music therapy means the utilization of musical instruments and other means within a therapeutic framework to achieve specific pre-determined goals individually or in a group, said Dr. Kollár.

It’s a supportive therapy to help healing processes, first of all for patients with mental health issues, fighting addictions, but physicians use it for stress management, rehabilitation, in hospice facilities, in schools, so the list is extensive. “It helps anyone experience freedom, freshness, energy – which every patient needs, so basically, music is therapeutic everywhere,” added Dr. Kollár. He recounted the story how a young, death metal fan with depression listened to Beethoven’s 7th symphony 4th movement and how it helped him verbalize his deeply buried psychological problems with symbols and metaphors that he was unable to talk about otherwise.

Music and digital health
Source: www.ucsfbenioffchildrens.org

Where do digital technologies come into the picture?

Live concerts, iPods, smartphones, radio & TV channels, Amazon Prime Music, Apple Music, Google Play Music, iHeartRadio, Pandora, Spotify, or SoundCloud – it seems that our options for listening to music are endless. Moreover, digital technologies for therapeutic purposes or overall health and well-being also recognized the power of music and started to incorporate into their means. For example, fitness trackers also identified the potential of music for motivating athletes: Fitbit Ionic can store 300 songs, the Garmin Forerunner has enough room for 500 melodies, etc. The entire range, however, is way more extensive than that – from music for babies until medical facilities, we found plenty of creative solutions regarding health technologies and music.

Happy babies listen to music

While research in this area is in its infancy, and positive effects have not yet been proven irrefutably; music is said to have all kinds of positive impact on the baby, for example, they produce a more balanced sleeping pattern with the help of music. Some state that babies who hear the same music that was played while in the womb fall asleep faster and sleep longer than babies who did not hear any melodies.

Currently, there are various gadgets and devices to play music safely to the unborn child. Ritmo Pregnancy provides expectant families with a simple way to safely and effectively deliver sounds. Oren Oz, a father-of-two invented the Ritmo system, after his wife had struggled to play music to her unborn child during her second pregnancy.

Sound Beginnings’ high-quality speakers are designed to keep the volume to a level that is safe for babies. Lullabelly is a prenatal music belt that can be used whether the expectant mother is on the go or just relaxing at home. It has a patented hands-free design, is easy to use and safe for the baby. Bellybuds are also used to deliver special music to the fetus through the belly belt with high-quality speakers. I would only advise parents not to expose the fetus to too much music or too loud sounds, here as in so many areas of life, temperance is vital.

Music and digital health
Source: www.babygogo.in

Music cleans the soul, releases stress and maintains mental health

The healing power of music is an integral part of mental hygiene and stress management tools. It changes the mood, makes stress release easier, diverts attention from pain-points, and makes even sleep better and more relaxing.

The Muse headband, a brain-sensing device, teaches you how to meditate well through music. It uses breathing exercises to the sound of waves (neutral), storms (bad) and tweeting birds (good) which indicate how focused and calm you are. The Calm app also uses beautiful music and calming scenes to guide the user through meditation. The Soulight app, a “mobile wellbeing companion” helps boost emotional health, prevent anxiety and alleviate depression with music therapy, mindfulness, and positive psychology. MindRazr also harnesses the power of music to improve overall health and well-being.

Nevertheless, music does not only work as a soothing tool; it can boost your concentration, too. The Focus@Will music service proves that. The Los Angeles-based company determines your personality type through a couple of test questions; then offers the appropriate music genre to improve your focus. Based on their survey of 22,000 active users, focus time increased more than 200-400 percent.

Music and digital health
Source: www.businesshealthy.org

Patients heal better and need less pain medication with music

Dr. Kollar explained that in Germany, there are certain hospitals where the patient can decide before a major operation whether or not he wants to listen to music during the procedure. It doesn’t matter whether the intervention requires anesthesia or not, music has positive postoperative effects: the patient needs less medication and healing is faster.

Several studies have proven the efficiency of music during operation. For example, researchers divided 75 patients undergoing open hernia repair into three groups: intraoperative music, postoperative music, and silence (control group). They assessed stress response during and after surgery and found that in case patients who listened to music during or after surgery, their stress levels decreased – they needed significantly fewer painkillers and experienced less anxiety.

Surgery is not the only field where music helps ease patients’ situations. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh decided to see if providing patients with the comfort of familiar music could help. It did. Patients on mechanical ventilation were allowed to listen to music of their choosing every other day for 60 minutes. On days patients listened to music, they demonstrated significant decreases in respiratory rate, heart rate, anxiety and shortness of breath compared to non-music days.

Music and digital health
Source: www.theglobeandmail.com

Calming sounds instead of screaming alarms for hospital staff

Hospitals and other medical facilities are surrounded by the cacophony of constant beeps and alarms – most of them keeping the nurses constantly busy checking patient rooms. Often, the signals are false, which ends up causing “alarm fatigue,” as this article refers to it. While we are a long way from designing a smart alarm system, one company decided to turn the disturbing noises into enchanting music.

The audio branding studio Man Made Music designed a new system taking a novel approach to the monitoring of patients’ vital signs, like heart rate, blood pressure, and blood oxygen saturation, with pleasant-sounding melodies instead of alarms. The idea is that a doctor can learn, with little training, to detect if a patient’s vitals are normal – and when they’re not based on this musical representation of the data. The approach helps both patients and medical staff wearing off the effects of screaming alarms.

Music and digital health
Source: www.ucsf.edu

The benefits of music are endless in healthcare, and the future might hold strange options to music therapy, and to experience sounds in other dimensions. Neil Harbisson, one of the world’s first cyborgs, can hear images and paint sounds due to an implant countering a rare form of color blindness. He believes Amy Winehouse is red and pink, while the telephone ring sounds green. It’s a useful trait – beyond helping him see colors, it makes talking about music easier, too, after all.

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