A love song can stop a war was the popular theme of a cult favorite anime series. But music can heal more than just raging madness. Modern medical practitioners have found out that music allows patients to heal better, sustain therapies with less pain, and get better results from exercise and treatments.
The Power of Sound
Joshua Leeds, a leading Psychoacoustics researcher, offered the premise that sound feeds the nervous system the same way food nourishes the physical body.
Music is characterized by a regular rhythm, predictable dynamics, among others, which relaxes the mood and eases stress in subjects. Critically-ill intensive care patients had reduced pain and blood pressure when exposed to music. Even pain becomes more tolerable subjects can focus on music, to endure or withstand it. Music therapy also helped regulate the blood pressure of patients with coronary heart disease.
Music is not just for chilling out. Listening to your favorite lively music while exercising can actually make your workout more effective. One study found that exercising in time to the music’s beat helps people exert more effort in their workouts and reduces their post-workout fatigue.
The hope of music's curative powers has spawned a community in the United States of some 5,000 registered music therapists, who have done post-college study in psychology and music to gain certification. Active primarily in hospitals, nursing homes, special needs classrooms and rehabilitation units, music therapists aim to soothe, stimulate and support the development or recovery of abilities lost to illness or injury.
Neuroscientists are exploring the role of music in treatment of some of the following:
Speech: For about 1 in 5 patients who suffer a stroke, difficulty with speech is a lingering effect. Schlaug and other researchers have found that by practicing to express themselves with a simple form of singing — something that sounds almost like Gregorian chant — aphasic stroke victims significantly improved the fluency of their speech compared with patients whose speech therapy did not include singing.
Researchers also say that playing calming Mozart to premature infants significantly reduces the amount of energy they expend, which allows them to gain weight. For those who have sustained brain damage from accidents or any other affliction, researchers use music to stimulate the areas of the brain that control these motor and speech functions. Heart attack patients are aided in recovering by listening to “joyful music” which improves vascular health and relaxes heart rhythms. Sports teams train better and it has been proven that athletic performance is boosted by 20 per cent—the same effect of performance-enhancing drugs, except music doesn't show up on a drug test.
For best results, try music with a fast tempo during intense training and slower songs during cool down. For teaching too, learning music boosts reading activities as revealed by studies.