Health: The Healing Power of Music

It is well known that music is soothing, but it may also lessen physical pain. A recent study suggests that when a child or teenager chooses their favorite music or story to listen to after an operation, pain is lessened. Sunitha Suresh, a student at Northwestern University pursuing a major in biomedical engineering and a minor in musical cognition, conducted the study. Suresh picked 60 children undergoing various major surgeries and split them into three groups. Each group was exposed to one of three sounds after surgery for thirty minutes: music of their choice, a story of their choice, or silence through noise cancelling headphones. After the listening period, the patients would rate their pain on a scale of one to ten. On average, the patients who listened to music or a story rated their pain one point less than those who sat in silence. Dr. Lynn Webster, a pain specialist, says music “can generate not only a focus and reduction in anxiety, but it can induce a feeling of euphoria” which can help pain. Suresh is hoping that these findings will allow doctors to lessen the amount of pain medication given to children post-operation.

Contributor: Claire Pacek

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