Understanding The Health Benefits Of Music When Recovering

2012-03-29 | |
Last updated: 2012-03-29

What Are Some Health Benefits Of Music During Recovery?

While it is fairly easy to understand how music can improve mood and bring pleasure, music does have other health benefits that are not as simply explained. One particularly important time when we should be listening to music is when we are recovering from illness or medical treatment. Researchers looking into the value of music have found a number of situations in which listening to music can actually aid us in becoming well faster and becoming more well.

Listening To Music To Lower Blood Pressure

An example where music is helpful during recovery is in the reduction of blood pressure. While high blood pressure can develop for many reasons, the stress, inactivity and medications taken following major medical treatment or surgery can lead to hypertension. Subsequently, such hypertension can result in complications that interfere with recovery. Because of this, eliminating such high blood pressure is beneficial to reducing recovery times.

In research from the University of Florence, researchers observed that patients with mild high blood pressure who listened to 30 minutes of pleasing music daily for 4 weeks were able to drop their blood pressure “significantly”. In comparison, patients who did not listen to music daily had no such reductions in blood pressure.

Using Music To Improve Stroke Recovery

While lowering blood pressure by reducing stress can be related to music’s effects on quality of life, not all health benefits from music arise for this reason. For different reasons, music also has the ability to improve the degree to which stroke victims recover. In research from the University of Helsinki, psychologists increased the extent of recovery in stroke victims using music in addition to the standard therapies.

By playing music during the 2 months of therapy following a stroke, the researchers were able to improve verbal memory by 60% in comparison to patients who underwent the same therapy without the addition of music. The patients who listened to music also improved their ability to focus by 17% while those without music did not improve at all. Lastly, patients who listened to music during therapy experienced less confusion. All of the improvements observed in these patients lasted at least 6 months following treatment.

In other related research from Imperial College London, researchers looking at vision loss due to stroke found that music can also aid in regaining vision. The researchers worked with patients to try to get them to observe objects in the damaged areas of their field of view. In patients who listened to music while doing this task, researchers observed that the patients were 4 times more likely to observe the objects. In effect, the brain somehow works around the damage.

Even though music does show these benefits, the reasons why the music helped in both studies are not well understood. Among the theories offered as to why music helps brain recovery, the researchers suggest that music may increase attention, it may directly stimulate damaged areas and it may encourage adaptation in the brain. In any case, it does appear to improve the extent of recovery.

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Category: General Health, Medical Research

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