Physical and psychological tests were conducted both before music therapy and after an initial therapy session. The results indicated that in addition to marked benefits in patient anxiety, mood, pain and shortness of breath, more than 80 percent of the patients said their mood had improved following music therapy.
Movement, facial expression and verbal skills were also found to have significantly improved as well. Having had a prior musical background seemed to play no role, and, for the most part, women and men derived similar benefits from the experience.
Even family members appeared to benefit, experiencing an improvement in terms of mood, although not in terms of anxiety levels.
The research team concluded that the findings prove that music is a "universal language" that can have a positive impact on all patients and even their caregivers.
Gallagher said she was pleased to see that the hard data she compiled appears to verify her prior observations.
"Being a music therapist, I've always believed in the power of the music," she said. "But it was great to have it backed up and proven by the research."
For her part, Katherine Puckett, national director of mind-body medicine at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America at Midwestern Regional Medical Center in Zion, Ill., expressed little surprise at the findings.
"I've seen music be very comforting, relaxing, healing, calming and helpful with patient pain," she said. "It may be hard to put into words, because it's often a visceral reaction that people feel. But music can transport people, because they can really relate to it. So, it can distract from pain. It can even help regulate breathing, as a patient's breath comes in line with the music or tempo of the music. And if that music is tranquil and soothing, it can help quiet them down if they're anxious. So, I have to say that these findings a
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