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Many Uses of Music in Hospitals

As many of you know, I have worked in a full-service medical - surgical hospital in Louisville, Kentucky. There is not a single area of this hospital (or any hospital) that could not benefit from having music incorporated in some specific well-thought-out way. And I don't mean just having MUSAK piped in! I believe that most people today find that more offensive than enjoyable. You've all heard of the law of diminishing returns? When pre-recorded piped-in music was first invented everyone thought it was great: soothing, relaxing, calming.

Now, most people detest it and find that it makes their blood pressure go up and their tempers flare. In a hospital, the ideal is to use personalized music, offered to patients as well as those in the waiting areas through clean headphones, much like those that are offered on international flights. There could be either a tape or CD library available or audio equipment embedded in the seats to plug into for a choice of music selections.

This not only allows people to relax with the kind of music they enjoy, but it also blocks out the disconcerting sounds of overhead paging, ambulances arriving, and people calling out, crying, etc. There are literally hundreds of studies documenting the effectiveness of music with surgery, pain management, childbirth, oncology, chemo and radiation. In the area of Behavioral Health, or Psychiatry as it used to be called, the benefits of using music with patients who are depressed, anxious, or chemically dependent on drugs or alcohol, are enormous. This is something that I do everyday and the rewards are one of the great joys of my job. Playing the piano for depressed patients and seeing their faces light up when they hear "You've Got a Friend" or "I'll Be Loving You Always" is just something that I wouldn't miss for the world.

I also particularly enjoy helping people pick out their music for surgery and have put together three tapes: one for the waiting area, one the or operating table and one for the recovery room. People tell me time after time that the process of making the tape distracted them from worrying about the outcome as much as they might have otherwise. Having the tape in the recovery area let them know, for sure, that they had survived the surgery and were listening to the music that they had chosen. One lady felt that her tape saved her life because the recovery room was so noisy and the nurses were rattling papers and talking so loudly!

In summary, if you must be in a hospital feel free to write to me and ask how you might incorporate music in your care. Or stop now and order my book: "Notes on Tuning Your Life with Music." It comes with a CD in the back with three different kinds of music and lots of instruction on how to use it. I also have three different tapes available.

About Author Dr. Alice Cash: Helping people to use music for Healing and Wellness. Dr. Cash stresses the use of music for health, learning, motivation, relaxation, energy building, or well-being. She is known internationally for her work with music and pregnancy, surgery, addictions, and Alzheimer's disease. Dr. Cash can be reached through Healing Music Enterprises. (www.healingmusicenterprises.com)

You may reproduce Dr. Cash's articles as long as your use the complete version without editing including the last paragraph.
Hospital music; Dr. Alice Cash

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