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Music Therapy effective in tackling neurological disorders

Music Therapy is slowly gaining ground in India, as apotential supplement for management of neurological disorders, across majorhospitals.

Dr. Krishnamoorthy Srinivas, Chairman-Emeritus, Institute ofNeurological Sciences, Voluntary Health Services, during his lecture on ‘Musicand Brain’, said that although the practice of healing with music may not bewell entrenched in India, as it is in the west, “we are surely on the way”.

He also endorsed the recommendation of Liver Sacks, theneurologist-author of the revered “Musicophilia’, about establishing MusicTherapy clinic at all major hospitals. Although the benefit of Music Therapy ismore real than illusory, it would be a myth to consider it as a panacea.

Pointing out to Western studies, and to his own research onneurology patients, he reinstated the clinical utility of music. A Harvardstudy demonstrated that children who turned into music did better in theiracademic performance, while a Chennai-based study led by Dr. Srinivas himself,revealed that exposure to music prompted a set of willed actions, such as theneed to be attentive, to perform specific tasks, and to exercise choice. The resultis true for any form of music, which the listener finds soothing enough.

Another finding as revealed by the UK-based Journal ofClinical Nursing, suggests that Music Therapy can reduce psychological stressamong pregnant women.

To prove this fact, researchers from the College of Nursingat Kaohsiung Medical University in Taiwan, randomly assigned 116 pregnant womento a music group, while 120 pregnant women were assigned to a control group. Atthe end of the study period, the music group showed considerable decrease intheir stress, anxiety and depression levels, within just two weeks, while thecontrol group showed only a much smaller reduction in stress, anxiety anddepression levels.

According to Prof. Chen, the study lead, pregnancy is aunique, stressful period for many expectant mothers, as they suffer anxiety anddepression due to the prolonged time period involved. Hence any interventionthat reduces these problems is to be welcomed.

“Our study shows that listening to suitable music is asimple, cost-effective and non-invasive way of reducing anxiety, stress anddepression during pregnancy,” he added.

The value of Music Therapy is slowly being realized inseveral clinical settings, and Complementary and Alternative Therapies areincreasingly being used, agrees Dr. Graeme D. Smith, Senior Lecturer,University of Edinburgh.

Several potential health benefits have been gained byclosely incorporating Complementary and alternative therapies into conventionalhealth care. Even the National Health Service is including several types ofComplementary/Alternative therapies that are part of its delivery of integratedservices.

“Patients have felt immense benefits even by incorporatinghalf an hour of relaxing music into their daily routine. In this world of sophisticatedmedical advances it feels nice to see that something as simple, andinexpensive, can be so effective,” says Prof. Chen.

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