About DrAlice

Dr. Alice Cash is one of the world’s few clinical musicologists. Based in Louisville, Kentucky, USA, she brings to her work over 40 years of professional experience as a college professor, clinical therapist, solo and chamber music performer and composer. Since 1990, Dr. Cash has been in the field of Music Medicine and conducted clinical research at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, under the guidance of Dr. Joel Elkes, Dr. Leah Dickstein, and Dr. Rif El-Mallakh. Her clinical work at the University of Louisville lead to her career in music medicine. In addition to her work with the University of Louisville, Dr. Cash lead the development of using music a hospital setting at Baptist East Hospital, Louisvile, KY. She has founded 3 companies: Healing Music Enterprises, Surgical Serenity Solutions and Crescent Hill Counseling.
"Tune Your Life with Music!"

New research shows that music reduces anxiety and pain perception during heart surgery

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Music and Cardiac Surgery is a match made in Heaven!  One of the primary ways that music reduces anxiety is by synchronizing and stabilizing the heartbeat with the process of rhythmic entrainment.  Heartbeat and breathing are the two main rhythmic activities going on in a healthy body.  When a person is feeling either anxiety or pain their heartrate speeds up greatly and often becomes erratic as well.

Here’s the introduction from the study that just came out in the Netherlands yesterday in the journal “Open Heart” ( Kakar E, Billar RJ, van Rosmalen J, et al. Music intervention to relieve anxiety and pain in adults undergoing cardiac surgery: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Open Heart 2021;7:e001474.doi:10.1136/openhrt-2020-001474)

 

Patients undergoing cardiac surgery often have perioperative anxiety and severe postoperative pain, despite the administration of benzodiazepines and opioids. Postoperative admission to the intensive care unit (ICU) exposes them to stressors known to increase anxiety and pain, such as noise, sleeplessness, mechanical ventilation and immobility. These stressors may lead to longer hospitalisation and higher use of benzodiazepines and opioids, with their inherent risk of side effects and adverse events. Research efforts have been directed towards approaches to relieve anxiety and pain. Apart from pharmacological therapies, nonpharmacological therapies have provided promising results.

A music intervention is relatively inexpensive and an easily applicable nonpharmaceutical intervention which has no known side effects. Previous studies in mixed surgical populations have found statistically significant beneficial effects of perioperative  recorded music on patients’ anxiety, pain and neurohormonal stress response, with less consumption of intraoperative sedatives and postoperative opioids. https://openheart.bmj.com/content/openhrt/8/1/e001474.full.pdf

This is particularly interesting to Surgical Serenity Solutions because our first patient was a 75-year old female undergoing bypass surgery and valve replacement.  It was a very positive experience for her compared to other surgeries this patient had undergone, such as hip replacements, back surgery, appendectomies and many others. This patient reported that as she was going under anesthesia the music felt very comforting to her and as she woke up, hours later, hearing the same music let her know that she was awakening from surgery and was OK.

The patient reported that in the recovery area that music was even more important because the post-op patients were just separated by curtains and she could faintly hear other patients moaning and calling for the nurse.  With her headphones on, she didn’t have to worry about that and she focused on the beautiful music and seeing her family again.  Later she said “I’ll never have surgery without these headphones again!!”

Surgical Serenity Solutions is the only company that that provides pre-loaded headphones exclusively for the patient.  Many hospitals play music chosen by the doctore overhead.  That music may be good for the doctor but is often very upbeat and not at all suitable for the patient.  Our music has the tempo of the healthy resting heartbeat and has been used in surgeries of all kind.  They are also very effective with dental procedures and anything procedure that causes anxiety and fears about pain.

Hospitals can purchase a starter pack of 12 headphones at www.surgicalserenitysolutions.com/12pack

Patients can purchase their own individual pre-loaded headphones at www.surgicalserenitysolutions.com/products

The music on the heaphones plays continuously for 8 hours and headphones can be reused!

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Do you know anyone who has been in ICU because of Covid?

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Young male patient listening music in bed in a hospital.

Today’s best hospitals are providing music for their  ICU patients.  Because of this terrible pandemic that won’t go away, our ICUs are again overflowing.  A dear friend who had been fully vaccinated passed away last week and we are all reeling.

What is an easy yet powerful intervention that hospitals can give their patients?  Music, of course!  Soothing, slow, and purely instrumental music has the power to transport the mind and body to another time and space.  Everyone knows intuitively that music does this for them, and yet when panic around possible Covid exposure or diagnosis sets in, most people don’t immediately think about music as an intervention.

Research in Music Therapy and Music Medicine is copious and there is absolutely no questions that music decreases anxiety and decreases pain perception. Here is one recent study confirming this yet again. https://news.vumc.org/2019/09/25/researchers-explore-musics-effect-on-icu-patients-staff/

Our 5 therapeutic playlists are easy to download and listen to samples.  Then, you choose which hour-long list you’d like to use and stream it to your earbuds or Bluetooth headphones as soon as you get to the hospital.  Most hospitals are more than happy for you to calm yourself in this non-chemical way which calms you down and allows them to go about their tasks without worrying about you!

Even better, hospitals are now ordering pre-loaded headphones to offer patients as soon as they are brought back for the pre-operative preliminaries.  This is good patient care and since hospitals are reimbursed for each procedure according to how good their patient satisfaction evaluations are, they really WANT you to happy with the experience!

When you or a loved one is in the ICU on a ventilator, you feel so helpless.  Well, offering soothing, proven effective music on carefully disinfected and covered headphones is a great intervention to offer! Go NOW to www.surgicalserenitysolutions.com/patient-products to purchase the pre-loaded headphones, or www.surgicalserenitysolutions.com/calm to download one of five therapeutic playlists!  You’ll be SO glad you did!!

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Is Music the most underutilized intervention in a hospital?

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listening to the calming, rhythmic entrainment music prior to surgeryI read everything that I can get my hands on about the healing power of music, don’t you?  All of my music therapist friends write fascinating case studies and publish their research, but you probably know I am not a music therapist.  I call myself a clinical musicologist because I have a PhD in musicology and have worked at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, and while there I earned a Master of Science in Social Work.  In 1966 I was a freshman at Florida State University  and they had a great music therapy department.  But I wanted to be a concert pianist at that time, so I went to FSU to study with famed concert pianist Edward Kilenyi and to practice the piano for 4-5 hours a day, which I loved!

It was over 25 years later that I realized that my passion for music and performing now included teaching people what I had learned about the healing power of music. A chance meeting with Dr. Arthur Harvey clinched this idea that teaching people about how music affects the mind, body and spirit was my mission and my passion going forward.

Which brings me to the point of why music is likely one of the most underutilized interventions in a hospital!

Recently, one of my physician friends posted on LinkedIn that he has believed for a long time that music is the most underutilized intervention in a medical/hospital setting! Why might that be?

I believe that although most people really love music, they also take it for granted because it is so readily available and most of the time, it’s free!  That should be a plus, right?  But it turns out that it actually makes people devalue it.  The key to making music a powerful intervention in a medical setting is to make it very intentional and not just incidental. 

I totally agree with my colleague that music is underutizlied, but how do we change that ?  First, we must understand how music affects the mind and body so that we can choose intelligently which music to use.

Of course live music is always best, but in a crowded operating room, prep room, or recovery room, this is just not practical.  And it may be that the implementation of a music intervention is not well-understood.

As a clinical musicologist I believe that in order for music to have the absolute best effect at calming the patient and stabilizing blood pressure, heart rate and breathing, each patient needs to have their own listening device, whether headphones or earbuds.  And I believe that it’s best if these devices are cordless so that they don’t tangle with any of the other devices that are being used in the patient’s room or in the operating room.

We have been providing pre-loaded headphones for patients having surgery since 2009.  Of course these calming headphones with scientifically chosen music to engage rhythmic entrainment are also extremely beneficial for any hospital patient who is scared, stressed out or experiencing pain.

And now things have gotten even easier!!  You can download one of our 5 mobile apps and stream your favorite genre of music to your own Bluetooth headphones or AirPods!  And hospitals can now license are our playlists for patients to start streaming when they arrive on the morning of surgery or procedure! To learn more about our streaming music, click HERE.  If you’re a hospital, click HERE.

To summarize, music does NOT have to be the most underutilized intervention in a hospital!  Times are changing! Let’s step into the 21st century and use all of our wonderful technological advances to help patients heal and recover without harsh and addicting medications.  the time is NOW!

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Hospitals Using Pre-loaded Headphones for Patients Having Surgery

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Over-ear headphones

These headphones can be paired with our streaming surgery playlists or be pre-loaded with one of our 5 playlists.

As the research keeps rolling in on the power of music for the patient having surgery, hospitals are beginning to invest in our pre-loaded headphones for their patients.  Probably 25-30 hospitals nationwide have invested and we are pretty sure that the number will double by the end of the year and then triple by end of 2022!

For the first decade of our product’s existence, we were primarily marketing to the patients.  Many patients from all over the world ordered the headphones for their upcoming surgery and I even wrote an article for them entitled “How to Talk to Your Dr. about using Music during Surgery.”

After about 2014 we realized that hospitals and Ambulatory Surgery Centers were really our target market, so we began to focus on educating them about  the benefits that research was showing. Our first big sale came in summer of 2014 when we sold 100 headphones to a Veteran’s Hospital in Kentucky.  Then, one by one, hospitals began popping up in other states that wanted to try our pre-loaded headphones with their surgery patients. The results were always outstanding and now we also have the 5 mobile app playlists that can be used with bluetooth headphones or earbuds.

Our goal eventually is to license this music to hospitals and surgery centers around the world and let hospitals buy the bluetooth or pre-loaded headphones of their choice.  We are working on creating more playlists in more genres but for now, we have our five basic genres:  Classical, Jazz, New Age, Lullabies, and Memory Care.  To download any of these, go to www.SurgicalSerenitySolutions.com/calm.  

We also have a book about Music with Surgery for patients and physicians alike.  This book informs about how music works on the mind-body to reduce anxiety and pain perception and can be purchase at www.SurgicalSerenitySolutions.com/book.

I absolutely believe that music through headphones for the patient will one day be standard procedure in every hospital on the planet.  Why not get YOUR hospital on board now? Hospitals can go to www.SurgicalSerenitySolutions.com/12pack .

As always, please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions or comments!

 

 

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The Neuro-chemistry of Music: there’s more research!

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music and endorphins, dopamine

The neuro-chemistry of music is endlessly fascinating to me!  People have loved music for thousands and thousands of years.  We know intuitively that music can cause us to feel a huge range of emotions…ecstacy and thrills, to devastion and pain.  What would romance be without its songs and what would worship and spiritual life be without its songs?  Imagine an army marching into war without pipes and drums, trumpets and clarinets!

For hundreds of years, no one knew exactly HOW or WHY music elicited all of these emotions…just that it does and we are so happy about that!  At the end of the 20th century, finally scientists began to have the tools to look at the brain in a whole new way.  This is when brain research began to really accelerate.  Neuro-chemistry books, articles and research are easy to find.  All you have to do is search for Brain Chemicals and music, to find dozens and dozens of studies on the brain and music.

As a blogger and a music researcher myself, I keep close tabs on what brings people to my blogs and my sites.  I am interested to know what other people want to know and understand about the healing power of music.  Earlier today, I was looking at some of this analytic  information and I saw that someone had come to my brain and music blog by searching for “is there scientific evidence on music raising endorphins?”  When I began searching, I came across so many fascinating  studies. One of the best ones is described at http://www.bbc.com/news/health-12135590, “Music Turns on Feel-good chemicals in the Brain.”  This appeared on the BBC website.’

Another great one is https://www.wired.com/2011/01/the-neuroscience-of-music/, “The Neuroscience of Music.”  If you’ve always wanted to understand more about how music works in our brains and in our bodies.  start with these two articles, and then get into the 200-300+ blog posts here in my blog.  There’s nothing more fascinating to those of us who love music as the lifeblood of our lives.  If you’re looking for a career that will benefit nearly anyone in the world, think about going into music therapy, or into science and then neuroscience!  I’m available to consult if you’re interested!  DrAlice@HealingMusicEnterprises.com.

To get the Serenity Music, chosen for its ability to engage rhythmic entrainment,go to www.surgicalserenitysolutions.com/calm.

To get my book on Amazon “Having Surgery?  Using Music to Decrease Anxiety and Pain Perception” click here

 

 

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Do YOU have a fear of Anesthesia or Surgery?

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Do YOU have a fear of anesthesia or surgery?  So many people have an intense fear of anesthesia and surgery that they postpone needed surgery, that could greatly improve their quality of life, because they are afraid that they will be in a worse condition, or not wake up at all!  Why do people experience fear this intense?  There can be lots of reasons, as I’ll explain in  this post…

Perhaps you come from a family of people who do not like going to the doctor because “the doctor always finds something wrong.”  Perhaps you know someone who has had a bad experience with surgery or anesthesia.  Perhaps YOU have had a bad experience with surgery or anesthesia.

The fact is, mistakes do happen, but in today’s medical world, surgery and anesthesia have never been more safe.  Fear and anxiety are rampant!   Everyone who is about to have surgery, has an extensive history taken by the doctors and nurses, about how you and other family members have responded to anesthesia in the past.  Thanks to the internet, there is LOTS of excellent, reputable information on the internet.

Still, fear and anxiety are not always rational.  If you have had an unexpected reaction in the past, or a close friend or family member has, you are probably going to be really scared and concerned.  I don’t want to diminish that or say that it’s silly or unwarranted.

Research has shown that when slow, steady, soothing music is played for a patient that has a racing pulse and rapid, shallow breathing, the music can actually slow the patient’s heart and breathing down, and keep them steady!  When this happens, the “relaxation response” kicks in. This is called “rhythmic entrainment.”  The more relaxed your body and muscles are, the easier it is for the doctors and nurses to do what they need to do to help you.

If your muscles are tense and stiff, it’s going to take more medication to relax you, and more medication to wake up from and recover from.  Yes, you also have to recover from the medication!!

So how does music help?

(more…)

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Reduce Pain and Anxiety During Surgery: A proven musical solution

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Patient receiving anesthesia before surgery

Having surgery causes anxiety in most people.  Just the thought of having surgery can induce feelings of helplessness and fear that are completely understandable.  Having surgery means that there is a problem, something is not right.  Even elective surgery, like cosmetic surgery, causes considerable anxiety.  Patients experiencing anxiety related to upcoming medical/dental procedures want to avoid chemicals and the risk of addiction or negative side-effects.  Some people are extremely sensitive to anesthesia.  Perhaps they’ve already had a negative reaction to anesthesia but have been informed that they must have surgery for very valid reasons.

Medical facilities want to help patients feel less anxious

How can physicians and medical facilities help patients feel less anxious and perhaps reduce the need for anxiety medication? (more…)

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Using Music to Get a Good Night’s Sleep and Relieve Insomnia

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Insomnia and music

Are YOU having trouble getting a good night’s sleep because of Covid-19 and all of the stress it has created for everyone?  One of the uses for our proprietary music has been insomnia.  We know it’s been used effectively for surgery, colonoscopies, and dental work, and insomnia is a logical extension.

Rhythmic entrainment is the phenomenon that our music is based on.  Our bodies and minds literally cannot help but entrain or synchronize with a rhythmic pulse, but when there is no rhythmic pulse in the environment, the body and mind can deteriorate into chaos.

Introducing a slow, steady pulse, in the context of a soothing genre of music that you like, can quickly, effortlessly and safely begin to slow down your heart-rate, breathing and your “monkey mind.”

A lady contacted me recently to say that she had not gotten a good night’s sleep since her husband passed away nearly a year ago.  She was still grieving her loss and literally could not sleep except for fitfully.  She wondered if our music through headphones might help?

Of course I replied that I thought there was a very good chance that our rhythmic entrainment music could help her and offered to deliver some of our pre-loaded headphones to her in person.  Here’s the message I got back from her the very next day:

“Oh Alice!  Your headphones with the beautiful music on them were a Godsend!  Last night, I got a good night’s sleep for the first time in almost a year.”

She was so relieved to sleep and have a peaceful night’s rest.  She has stayed in touch with me and reports that she keeps her headphones right beside her bed and streams our rhythmic entrainment playlists every night, choosing from the classical, jazz and New Age playlists.

Because we are complex beings, results will vary from night to night. Insomnia can strike for all kinds of reasons, but slow, simple, rhythmic music can definitely help to calm the mind and body very quickly and effectively.  Sleep medications can be quite addictive and sometimes people have very bad reactions to them.  Why not get one of these Serenity Solutions playlists right now?  Click HERE!  

To learn more about our playlists, go to www.SurgicalSerenitySolutions.com/calm.  Sleep well!

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By |September 3, 2020|Insomnia|0 Comments

The Neuro-chemistry of Music

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Dr Cash at AORN conferenceThe neuro-chemistry of music is endlessly fascinating to me!  People have loved music for thousands and thousands of years.  We know intuitively that music can cause us to feel a huge range of emotions…ecstacy and thrills, to devastion and pain.  What would romance be without its songs and what would worship and spiritual life be without its songs?  Imagine an army marching into war without pipes and drums, trumpets and clarinets!

For hundreds of years, no one knew exactly HOW or WHY music elicited all of these emotions…just that it does and we are so happy about that!  At the end of the 20th century, finally scientists began to have the tools to look at the brain in a whole new way.  This is when brain research began to really accelerate.  Neuro-chemistry books, articles and research are easy to find.  All you have to do is search for Brain Chemicals and music, to find dozens and dozens of studies on the brain and music.

As a blogger and a music researcher myself, I keep close tabs on what brings people to my blogs and my sites.  I am interested to know what other people want to know and understand about the healing power of music.  Earlier today, I was looking at some of this analytic  information and I saw that someone had come to my brain and music blog by searching for “is there scientific evidence on music raising endorphins?”  When I searching for the same, I came across so many fascinating NEW studies that have just been done in the past 3-5 years  One of the best ones is http://www.bbc.com/news/health-12135590, “Music Turns on Feel-good chemicals in the Brain.”  This appeared on the BBC website.’

Another great one is https://www.wired.com/2011/01/the-neuroscience-of-music/, “The Neuroscience of Music.”  If you’ve always wanted to understand more about how music works in our brains and in our bodies.  start with these two articles, and then get into the 200-300+ blog posts here in my blog.  There’s nothing more fascinating to those of us who love music as the lifeblood of our lives.  If you’re looking for a career that will benefit nearly anyone in the world, think about going into music therapy, or into science and then neuroscience!  I’m available to consult if you’re interested!  DrAlice@HealingMusicEnterprises.com.

When people listen to their favorite music, serotonin, dopamine, and other “feel-good” chemicals are released.  When people listen to their favorite soothing, calming music, the relaxation neuropeptides are released. (called GABA).  We now offer five, hour-long playlists that incorporate rhythmic entrainment and are proven effective and calming the anxious mind and body and decreasing medication requirements.  Go NOW to wwwSurgicalSerenitySolutions.com/calm.

 

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Surgical Serenity Solutions Hospital Consulting is Now Open for Business!

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Music Medicine in the Hospital

Dr Cash consults with hospitals around the world.

I’ve been selling pre-loaded headphones to hospitals and patients for a about 11 years now.  I’ve really learned a lot about how hospitals operate, how their purchasing departments work and especially about how excited the surgeons and anesthesiologists get when they find that there is a well-researched product that they can use in order to get better surgical outcomes using music.

But you know that this is not just any music.  While some hospitals continue to play music through speakers in the OR, many more are realizing that the patient needs to have their own slow, soothing music coming through headphones.  They have now learned about the power of rhythmic entrainment and are wanting to provide this to their patients.

This is why my Music Medicine consulting has been launched.  I am proposing to present a webinar for hospitals that will present an overview of all that Music Medicine can offer in a hospital, not only in surgery, but also in Pain Management, Labor and Delivery, Oncology, Behavioral Health and more. Hospitals can start out with one year of licensing our 5 playlists, and get 5-10 hours of consulting.

Or they could purchase 5-10 hours of consulting and get a free year of our licensed music.  I am starting out at a very reasonable price for each hospital, based on the number of beds they have.  I highly recommend starting with either Surgery or Pain Management.  Here’s the form to fill out if you are interested:  https://www.surgicalserenitysolutions.com/contact-us-licensing/

Every day, more and more research is published about the benefits of music with surgery and anesthesia.  To read some of the most recent ones, click here:  https://www.surgicalserenitysolutions.com/medical-research/.

One of the things that I teach physicians and other healthcare professionals about is the difference between Music Therapy and Music Medicine.  In a nutshell, music therapy must be administered by a board-certified music therapist, who works one-on-one with the patient.  Music Medicine can be administered by any healthcare professional who understands the basics of rhythmic entrainment and musical taste.

With our five rhythmic entrainment playlists, you have three playlists for surgery, one for children, newborns and preemies, and one for patients over 70-99.  All of these playlists have been used with thousands of patients for calming effects.  They can be streamed to Bluetooth headphones or used with wired headphones and a smartphone or MP3 player.  I’m already working with hospitals around the world and am excited about creating a Music Medicine System for YOUR hospital.

You can email me anytime at DrAlice@SurgicalSerenitySolutions.com.

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