Music programs help patient's "move on" during treament

Whether it’s pop, hip-hop, country, or classical, we all have favorite songs that make us move or simply move us. But could music help battle different diseases and conditions?

For cancer patient Virginia, her hospital room is her stage, “it just uplifts you” she says.

Danielle Decosmo volunteers her time to play and perform for patients like Virginia. Virginia’s husband David says it does a lot toward helping create a positive attitude.

"I do see a change often,” says Danielle, "I definitely think music helps people heal."

Board certified music therapist Elizabeth Stegemoller knows that music certainly does help, noting, "Music stimulates, huh, multiple areas of the brain.”

Stegemoller has her PHD in neuroscience and specializes in Parkinson’s disease. She says walking in time with music can even help patients overcome walking difficulties.

"If you have a person with a motor disorder, huh, you can use music to help facilitate movement,” Stegemoller adds.

After singing training, Stegemoller says Parkinson’s patients’ speech can also improve.

A program at St. Louis University is testing if music improves cancer treatment by decreasing patients’ pain and recovery time. It has been shown to increase Alzheimer’s patients’ cognitive function.

Stegemoller says more research is needed to find out what music changes in the brain.

"There's a lot of theories out there as to why it's working, so now those theories need to be tested."

In the meantime, music seems to be making Virginia’s treatment a little more bearable. Music is even being used in programs for veterans with PTSD.

A study funded by the V.A. found veterans given six weeks of guitar lessons reported a 21 percent reduction in overall symptoms and a 37 percent increase in health-related quality of life.


BACKGROUND: Music has been used in medicine for thousands of years. Ancient Greek philosophers believed that music could heal both the body and the soul. When King Saul was having bad dreams, young David would play the lyre for him and this would calm the tormented king. Native Americans have used singing and chanting as part of their healing rituals for millennia. The more formal approach to music therapy began in World War II, when U.S. Veterans Administration hospitals began to use music to help treat soldiers suffering from shell shock. (SOURCE:

MUSIC THERAPY IN THE 21ST CENTURY: Today, music therapy is used by health care professionals to promote healing and enhance quality of life for their patients. Music therapy may be used to encourage emotional expression, promote social interaction, relieve symptoms, and for other purposes. (SOURCE:

MUSICAL THERAPIST: Today, more than seventy colleges and universities have degree programs that are approved by the American Music Therapy Association. Music therapists must have at least a bachelor's degree, 1,200 hours of clinical training, and one or more internships before they can be certified. There are thousands of professional music therapists working in health care settings in the United States today. They serve as part of cancer-management teams in many hospitals and cancer centers, helping to plan and evaluate treatment. Some music therapy services are covered by health insurance. (SOURCE:

INTERVENTION: Some research suggests that music-based interventions can be effective in reducing anxiety, pain perception and sedative intake. Music that is selected by trained personnel is preferred because specific guidelines for music selection should be followed in order to maximize its positive effect on patients. Music therapy interventions can be designed to:

* Promote Wellness
* Manage Stress
* Alleviate Pain
* Express Feelings
* Enhance Memory
* Improve Communication
* Promote Physical Rehabilitation

? For More Information, Contact:

Elizabeth L. Stegemöller, PhD, MT-BC

Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
powered by Disqus
WNDU - Channel 16 54516 State Road 933 South Bend, IN 46637 Front Desk: 574-284-3000 Newsroom: 574-284-3016 Email:
Copyright © 2002-2014 - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 202385591 -
Gray Television, Inc.