The Miracle of Music
Bob Marley had a wonderful quote that you might have heard or read somewhere: “One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain”. It is very true, regardless on your stance on Bob Marley, you have to acknowledge he was on to something. There is a strange and almost magical connection between music and the human spirit. That “pain-soothing”, “healing” quality that Marley was singing about it does exist. Imagine a therapy that lifts the spirits up, drastically alters positively the patient’s mood. That is what music does. It has done it for ages, and it continues to do it. But it is until now that the healing power of music is being explored. Coincidentally this is the topic of this week’s #DMSHealth twitter chat.
You’ve probably seen the viral video of Henry, an older gentleman with dementia who is hunched over his wheelchair, eyes almost closed and almost non-expressive, save for a couple of short sentences. Once a pair of headphones with some of his favorite music began to play for him, his face lights up and begins rocking and dancing in his chair. His eyes are wide open, revealing an enormous sense of joy. A true awakening in every sense of the word. Afterwards an interviewer sits down with him and asks him some simple ‘yes or no’ questions. But after a short while, Henry is engaging in conversation, remembering Cab Calloway, and even singing. This viral video is a short excerpt from the 2014 documentary “Alive Inside”, which details the breakthroughs of the “Music & Memory” organization. This organization explores the wonderful benefits of personalized music as a therapeutic tool for patients struggling with dementia, and other cognitive and physical impairments.
The results of using music on patients can only be described as amazing and deeply moving. Patients have shown to become happier and more social, they bond and strengthen their relationship to their family members. Also, behavior management issues are dramatically lowered to a point where the relationship between the caregiver and the care receiver deepen.
Music can be powerful, and that power can be used for good, as a therapeutic tool to reach places within the human brain that we are yet to reach any other way. Music can touch our very core, as the rhythm and sounds connect to our mind. The idea to continue to further on using music to help slow down the effects of dementia is at the center of many scientific and medical studies. Awakenings like the one in Henry’s case are very frequent and it is becoming a growing tendency of providing iPods to Retirement Homes in hopes of helping the relatives of Alz and Dementia patients have that connection back to the person inside.