Did You Know…that music can help you to… heal degenerative brain conditions… restore lost speech… regain movement… and recover from depression?
We’ve all experienced the power of music—it lifts our spirits, gets our bodies moving, and brings forgotten memories to the surface with a single note. When used as a healing modality, music therapy goes even deeper… treating depression, degenerative brain conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, stroke conditions, and more.
The Music Therapy Movement
Music was used to heal as far back as the days of Aristotle and Plato, but the modern day music therapy profession emerged after the World Wars as musicians began playing at veteran hospitals to help soldiers recover from physical and emotional traumas. The effect was substantial, and colleges began implementing specialized curriculum. Today, there are over 5,000 board-certified music therapists in the United States alone. Music therapy is used in hospitals, nursing homes, classrooms and rehabilitation centers to aid in recovery from illness or injury.
The Magic Behind Music
Neuroscientists are working to discover exactly how music is able to restore lost abilities. Although the exact mechanism is unknown, scientists theorize that music takes a backdoor entrance into the brain and rewires affected brain regions that have been debilitated by disease or trauma. Musical components such as pitch, harmony, melody, and rhythm all target specific areas of the brain responsible for movement, speech, and social interaction.
The more scientists can learn about how music influences brain processes, the better music therapists will be able to treat specific conditions using a combination of tried and tested techniques and improvisation.
Already, however, research demonstrates the power of music to treat and reverse a number of common and debilitating health conditions, including the following:
|Memory:||Music has been shown to help Alzheimer’s patients retrieve memories when all other cognizance of daily life has slipped away. Nursing homes implement music therapy to bring patients with dementia out of isolation and help them interact with spouses and loved ones they have forgotten.|
|Parkinson’s Disease:||Music activates brain motor regions that interact with rhythm. When Parkinson’s patients follow a rhythm, they are able to walk smoothly on beat.|
|Speech Problems:||Music has the same effects on stutterers as it does stroke victims suffering from aphasia (difficulty of speech). Patients treated with melodic intonation therapy—a therapy that uses singing as a means of expression—demonstrated dramatic improvement in speech fluency compared to patients treated with conventional speech therapy techniques.|
|Depression:||Music stimulates the release of the pleasure hormone dopamine. Too little dopamine leads to memory loss, irrational thinking and schizophrenia, but just the right amount contributes to feelings and thoughts of happiness. A review of five randomized studies found that four studies showed a significant decrease in depression and improvement in mood and mental state among patients undergoing music therapy versus those given standard care.|
Benefits from Birth to Old Age
The potent healing powers of music have been shown to provide significant health benefits throughout the human lifespan, including the inevitable traumatic events that we all must endure and overcome. Not only has music been shown to significantly improve pathological anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder—but music therapy also eases the aging transition itself. Studies show that music helps improve your cognitive, emotional and physical health so that you can celebrate your golden years and enjoy life to the fullest.