Ever Some have heard it, and have found
Posted On June 7, 2019
Ever changing, always evolving and adapting to reach where we couldn’t have dreamed. We spend so much time and money to try and grasp it, but it is always too far away, venturing on into the unknown. However, unreachable as it is, we can follow its call. Now we can find it, for medicine has a sound. Some have heard it, and have found aid in it. Music therapy is an effective way to care for patients because it is cheaper than standard care methods, music therapy helps rehabilitate patients with Substance Use Disorder (SUD), it can improve communication in children with developmental disorders, and it reduces surgical anxiety.With medicine being as bank-breaking as it is, music therapy can be a godsend for some who need help or are in poverty. Music therapy can cost upwards of about 25% less money to provide for patients in a home hospice than standard care and medication. This difference in pricing might not sound like much, but for a middle or lower class family, saving money can be a constant fight for survival. In these endeavors, a family can go bankrupt trying to stay healthy because of the high costs of hospital bills. According to a study by Rafael Romo1 about the cost-benefits of music therapy, “…the total cost of patients in music therapy was $10,659 and $13,643 for standard care patients, resulting in a cost savings of $2,984.”. This data shows that although music therapy costs thousands of dollars, it is still much less expensive than standard care. As well as, due to the efficacy of the treatment, less medication is needed, bringing the price of medication from $3,702 to $1,287, saving home hospice providers $2,515 (Romo, 356)1. These price drops aren’t fundamentally going to change the way that medicine is chosen for patients who are financially stable, but in an economy where the minimum wage is no longer livable, it can change the world. Not only does the incorporation of music therapy into standard care save money, it is used to help patients heal from addiction disorders. Music Therapy can be applied to the assistance of those recovering from SUD and can be much more cost-effective than the current recovery program. The current system for treating patients with SUD is flawed not in essence but purely in practice, with only around 10% of people getting the help they need (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 93)2. This combined with how approximately 50% of those who get treatment experience a relapse (Hohmann)3, creates a hard to access, and ineffective environment where it is the only option for aid. These statistics show a clear need for improvement, in a system that helps people who are desperately clinging to every last scrap of normalcy that they can and suffering through withdrawal. In comparison, “Forty percent (?) were of high level evidence of efficacy, comparing MT music therapy to group verbal therapy…” (Hohmann)3 this study shows how effective music therapy can be when used for people recovering from SUD. These results shine with a quiet dignity, one that proves its own usefulness, while admitting its faults. And though there might be other treatments that have higher levels of efficacy, they might be used in conjunction with one another in an effort to increase the overall effects for a group of patients being treated. Music therapy’s effects aren’t always obvious, however. Along with offering assistance to people with SUD, music therapy is helpful for those who can’t find a calm before their surgical storm. Music therapy is an underused skill to reduce surgical anxiety in patients who will soon undergo the procedure. Patients preoperatively exposed to music therapy showed lower levels of epinephrine – the fight or flight hormone – than patients without music (Brunges)4. This is also shown in an article by Esther Mok and Kwai-Yiu Wong, “One researcher has found that a single music therapy session was effective for decreasing anxiety and promoting relaxation” (Mok)5. This concept of lower surgical anxiety sounds almost unnoticeable, but it can make a large difference in the outcome, length, and cost of a surgery. If a patient is feeling exceedingly anxious during a procedure they might squirm or fidget, which could create complications, and if those small movements are too distracting and cause too much interference for the surgeon, they may need to administer a sedative. These variables could cause both pains for the patient, problems in the surgery, and increased cost due to the sedative or damage caused for the patient. Music therapy can do more than calm, however. Music therapy has a wide range of effects on the patients in a licensed musical therapists care. Anywhere from mnemonic songs to help remember academic knowledge to using alliterative lyrics to help pronounce letters (Judd)6. These techniques help allure young minds towards the thought of learning in a more appealing fashion than usual. This works better than traditional classroom methods because it somewhat tricks the children into learning while their minds are just enjoying the rhythms and following along giddily. These tutoring sessions can be extremely beneficial to the pupils, allowing them to learn faster than they could have previously. Music therapy isn’t without its flaws, however.Music therapy, like most medicines, doesn’t work one hundred percent of the time. For all of its successes, there will still be patients who simply won’t get the same help from the use of it. However, this trait isn’t wholly unique to music therapy. Other forms of medicine also aren’t always as effective as hoped. Music therapy also doesn’t have the same dangerous side effects that some forms of medication contain. Still, for music therapy’s main shortcoming to completely bring down the method in one’s eyes, one must also ignore all of the success stories that originate from the use of the treatment. Once, the President and CEO of The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, Edo Banach, JD, traveled to Columbia, Maryland to visit two music therapists, Georgia and Anne, and to gain an understanding of their work. He watched as they helped a woman named Ms. A who had lead a church chorus for 50 years in her life. Georgia and Anne were able to help Ms. A past her fear of death through the music they sang together, beginning with Johnny Cash and moving to spiritual choral pieces. She later decided that she was content with her current mortality.”Ms. A was sure that she was ready, but she did have a song request, ‘My Hope is Built on Nothing Less.’ I hadn’t heard this song before, but I was so moved to see and hear Georgia and Ms. A harmonize beautifully, with Ms. A repeating the last line—’All other ground is sinking sand’—twice. Ms. A sang these lines with a certainty and conviction. We all knew, somehow, that Ms. A would soon die. As I leaned in to speak with Ms. A, she asked me why I didn’t sing with her. I told her that I didn’t want to mess up her beautiful two part harmony. She smiled, as if she knew that I didn’t really know the words.Two hours later Anne and Georgia let me know that Ms. A died.” (Banach)7Though stories of this likeness may be saddening, they are true tales of growth, showing a level of strength that takes years to obtain. These moments of sacrifice, these triumphs over ourselves which are telling of the greatest bravery, and most tremendous heroism will be shining examples of the caliber of one’s unwavering will. For they show that though these choices don’t come easily, they are often found to be worth-while, and are made with great pride.Through the use of music therapy, people have grown beyond their previous selves, been healed to perfection, learned in entirely new ways, and been coaxed past their fears. Music therapy has an immense amount of uses, and likely even more have yet to be discovered. But as music therapy grows, so must the field of medicine grow to accept it for the healing properties it has, and the way it can restore and rejuvenate people. Music therapy should be accepted as the treatment it is because it’s a very accessible form of aid for those in need, because of how people can conquer addictions whilst under its wing, because music therapy helps children who need assistance, and because it allows patients to rise above their panic.