Many people do not understand the difference between music medicine and music therapy. To me, it’s not a big deal, but to some people it is a huge deal. My mentor, Dr. Arthur Harvey, explained it to me like this: in order to conduct a music therapy session, a music therapist must be present. It is the therapeutic relationship between the music therapist “doing” music with the patient that creates the result. Music therapy is what worked miracles with Gaby Giffords. Music therapy is a wonderful, fantastic modality with many situations, especially situations needing rehabilitation.
This is not true with music medicine. The use of music during surgery is an example of music medicine. In this situation, the music, as chosen by a clinical musicologist for its unique properties and suitability for pre-surgery, surgery, and recovery works all by itself. When played for the patient through wireless, lightweight headphones, well-documented benefits result! The surgery suite needs a surgeon, an anesthesiologist and several nurses and surgery techs. They do not need one extra person!
This may not sound earth-shaking to you, but in a litigious society, and a hospital community that is terrified of lawsuits and staph infections, the surgery headphones provide a lot of comfort and benefits for both patient and doctor. The anesthesiologist gets the patient to sleep more easily because the patient is already relaxed by music. The patients wake up faster and with fewer complications, because they required less anesthesia. In recovery, they require less pain medication because the soothing music and the entrainment phenomenon have kept the patient relaxed and therefore they experience less pain.
We have two clinical trials in progress right now and are working with hospitals around the country to get our headphones into their operating rooms for all patients. If you or a friend or a family member is having surgery, please be sure that they have the information about music and surgery!