It’s said music soothes the soul, but music may also be able help hospital patients recover from injuries more quickly and to better deal with challenges like chronic pain. Abbie Dvorak, a music therapist at University Hospitals in Iowa City, says she’s working with a variety of patients.
Dvorak says: "If it’s setting up a relaxation program for them, we can do that using music. If they need some help with motivating them for therapeutic exercise, we can set up some music for that." Since everyone’s musical tastes are different, she says the playlists during therapy are also widely varied, from Beethoven to the Beatles to the Beastie Boys.
"It’s really important to find out what the people’s preferences are," Dvorak says. "I really make sure that I emphasize to them to listen to music that is motivating to them, something that they enjoy, not necessarily something that I would enjoy." Someone in their 60s may prefer the strings of Mozart to mellow out, while a teenager might request the thrash metal of Slipknot. Dvorak says she’s noticed younger patients may want hard rock music even for relaxation, but she offers a bit of advice.
She says when you listen to music that’s really fast or loud, you may not realize it, but your heart rate and blood pressure go up as your body naturally reacts to it. Dvorak says music can bring hospital patients a level of contentment in several avenues, helping them to meet their cognitive, physical, social, emotional and spiritual goals.