How anesthesiologists discovered the value of music with Surgical Serenity Solutions headphones

healthy resting heartbeat entrains to music through headphones

Patient enjoying serene music that entrains with healthy resting heartbeat

When I first had the idea to create preloaded headphones for surgical patients, it was because I had gone through a surgical procedure that terrified me. I was told that I needed to have back surgery for a ruptured disk. After 40+ years of sitting at the piano for 4-5 hours a day to practice, I would then sit in a chair teaching piano for 4-5 hours a day.

People have to have surgery for many different reasons but when they are told they need surgery, fear and anxiety are almost always the feelings they experience first. As a professional musician and lover of music, I thought that if patients could be handed a headphone with soothing, calming, comforting music on it, as soon as they arrive at the hospital, this could really make a difference.

As I began to research the idea, I learned that the patient’s anxiety causes their muscles to tense up, all over the body, and some of the initial medication given to the patient at the hospital is to begin to relax those muscles. The more relaxed your muscles are when you’re wheeled into the operating room, the less anesthesia it will take to sedate you, and the less pain medication (opioids) it will take to keep you comfortable during the procedure!

Dr Cash speaks to hospitals and surgeons around the world!I was focused exclusively on the patient at first, but then I realized that I really did need the “buy-in” or confirmation that this was a good idea from the anesthesiologist and surgeon. At the time, I was working a the University of Louisville School of Medicine, so finding surgeons and anesthesiologists to dialogue with was not difficult.

Here is an excerpt from one anesthesiologist who also is a professional violinist:

“As an anesthesiologist with an extensive background in classical music, I am a strong proponent of Dr. Cash’s proprietary, rhythmic entrainment focused music, pre-loaded on cordless headphones.

Rarely, if ever, in medicine is there an intervention that has repeatedly demonstrated efficacy in multiple studies that also carries with it virtually no risk to the patient.

As a physician, I am always weighing the risks and benefits of each treatment to determine if it’s worth utilizing. Surgical Serenity Headphones are unique in that they carry immense benefits without any downside.

 I am always pleased to accommodate a patient’s wishes to bring music into the operating room. I would be particularly enthusiastic if they had these pre-programmed cordless headphones that would maximize the physiologic benefits through rhythmic entrainment.

 I recommend talking to your surgeon as soon as possible in the process, and certainly mention your desire to bring headphones in on the day of surgery to the anesthesia team. This would best be accomplished if you have a pre-op appointment with someone from anesthesia, but not everyone will have this chance. This could also happen during a pre-op phone call.

Whenever it happens, try to be prepared to assuage any concerns or skepticism with the fact that these headphones, and music in general, have been and are currently being used in operating rooms across the planet, including many world-renowned medical centers.”

One of the first reports that I wrote for patients was called “How to Talk with your  Doctor about Using music during surgery.” In the beginning, patients were concerned (and rightly so!) that their doctor wouldn’t let them bring their headphones from home into surgery.

I learned quickly that hospitals around the country have very different policies from each other and that while some hospitals and doctors are totally OK with this concept, depending on what the specific surgery is, other hospitals totally forbid “anything from home” coming into the OR.

patient listens to soothing jazz while waiting for cataract surgeryNow, music in the operating room is more expected than not.  But what patients nor doctors still realize is that the patient DOES respond to music that is playing nearby, even when they are under general anesthesia!  Yes!  The patient may not consciously HEAR the music, but their body does respond to the rhythm of the music by entraining to it…the patient’s own heartbeat and breathing TENDS to sync with the tempo of music playing in the room.  That is why the music for the patient needs to be different from the music that surgeon has chosen!

Surgical Serenity Solutions has created the solution for this dilemma! Our pre-loaded headphones put the ideal slow, soothing music directly into the patient’s ears with playlists in 5 different genres.  And the doctor can still have his or her music playing ambiently to help them maintain their energy and focus. To read more about our headphones, which can be ordered by patients or hospitals, go to