A new study has found that patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other chronic respiratory conditions showed signs of improvement in symptoms, psychological well-being, and quality of life when exposed to music therapy in addition to standard rehabilitation. The study, titled “AIR: Advances in Respiration – Music therapy in the treatment of chronic pulmonary disease” and led by researchers at The Louis Armstrong Center of Music and Medicine at Mount Sinai Beth Israel (MSBI), was published in Respiratory Magazine.
“The care of chronic illness is purposefully shifting away from strict traditional assessments that once focused primarily on diagnosis, morbidity and mortality rates,” said Joanne Loewy, DA, director of the Louis Armstrong Center at MSBI. “Instead, the care of the chronically ill is moving toward methods that aim to preserve and enhance quality of life of our patients and activities of daily living through identification of their culture, motivation, caregiver/home trends and perceptions of daily wellness routines.”
COPD symptoms include shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing, frequent colds and chest tightness, symptoms that often lead patients to isolate themselves with inadequate medical services and underserved rehabilitation programs, making proper treatment difficult to access, the researchers said in a press release. The 68 participants in the study were all diagnosed with chronic respiratory diseases, including COPD, and were randomly distributed into two groups, with one given six weekly music therapy sessions. These included live music, visualizations, wind instrument playing, and singing – all incorporating breathing techniques and supervised by certified therapists who provided music-psychotherapy. The therapy incorporated the patients’ preferred musicality and encouraged self-expression and engagement.
Results showed considerable improvement in symptoms of depression and dyspnea in the music therapy group, and lower reports of fatigue.
“Music therapy has emerged as an essential component to an integrated approach in the management of chronic respiratory disease,” said Jonathan Raskin, MD, a study co-author and director of the Alice Lawrence Center for Health and Rehabilitation at MSBI. “The results of this study provide a comprehensive foundation for the establishment of music therapy intervention as part of pulmonary rehabilitation care.”
The study was funded by Johnson & Johnson’s Society for the Arts in Healthcare and the Louis Armstrong Education Foundation.
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