Music Therapy Improves Symptoms of Chronic Respiratory Disorders

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is the 4th leading cause of death in America. Interested in the effect of music therapy on the traditional treatment of COPD and other chronic respiratory disorders, researchers at the Louis Armstrong Center of Music and Medicine and Mount Sinai Beth Israel (MSBI) combined standard rehabilitation with music therapy. Results showed that music therapy substantially increased treatment success.

Sixty-eight patients with chronic disabling respiratory diseases, including COPD, were randomized into two groups. Both groups received standard treatment for six weeks, but one group also received music therapy once a week. Music therapy sessions consisted of live music, visualization exercises, wind instrument playing, and singing that incorporated breath control techniques. Sessions were led by certified music therapists and encouraged active participation from patients, who picked their music preferences in order to promote self-expression and increase active engagement.

At the end of six weeks, patients who participated in music therapy enjoyed an improvement in physical symptoms, such as shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, frequent colds and flus, and chest tightness, and enhanced emotional well-being and overall improvement in quality of life compared to patients who did not receive music therapy and engaged solely in standard rehabilitation protocol.

Jonathan Raskin, MD, co-author of the study and Director of the Alice Lawrence Center for Health and Rehabilitation at MSBI explains: “Music therapy has emerged as an essential component to an integrated approach in the management of chronic respiratory disease. The results of this study provide a comprehensive foundation for the establishment of music therapy intervention as part of pulmonary rehabilitation care.”

What Is Music Therapy? music therapy

Music therapy is an established health profession that uses music to help treat physical, emotional, cognitive, and social issues. Research has shown that you don’t have to have any musical talent to benefit from music therapy, just the willingness to engage. Evidence supports music therapy as a viable treatment for depression, stress, autism, and even cancer. Music therapy has lowered anxiety in patients undergoing radiation treatment, and has even been shown to reduce nausea and vomiting from high-dose chemotherapy treatments.