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Music Therapy and Medical Treatment: A Powerful Combination for Sickle Cell Warriors

December 19, 2014 by Andrea


Photo by Ryan McGuire via Gratisography

Photo by Ryan McGuire via Gratisography

A few months ago, we explored the concept of art therapy and how it can help sickle cell patients navigate their emotions and cope with their pains and stress. But did you also know that music therapy can be just as beneficial? 

For those sickle cell warriors (of all ages) who are looking for another way to express what they're feeling and to build effective coping strategies, music therapy programs -- like the one at Mount Sinai Beth Israel's The Louis Armstrong Center for Music & Medicine in New York City -- could be the perfect fit. 

Not only can music be used to educate patients on their treatment and help them retain the information they've learned, but it can has also been shown to decrease stress and the perception of pain. In a presentation at this year's Sickle Cell Disease Association of America convention, speakers Samuel Rodgers-Melnick, MT-BC and Tara Pell, MA, MT-BC from University Hospitals in Cleveland, Ohio, defined music therapy as "the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized non-musical goals with a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program." 

The goals of music therapy, according to Rodgers-Melnick and Pell, are to reduce the perception of pain, reduce stress, foster positive patient-staff interaction, and improve quality of life. To do this, music therapy sessions may include activities, such as music-assisted relaxation, music making, guided visualizations, songwriting, lyric analysis, meditation, improvisation, and passive listening, among other techniques. 

In conjunction with a sickle cell patient's medical treatment plan, music therapy can provide a much-needed release of creative expression, a lessening of physical pain, and with that a stronger quality of life, which is priceless.

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