Music Helps Surgery Patients Recover, Says New Study

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Aug 13, 2015 06:48 AM EDT

There's really no doubt on how music plays an integral part in our lives. Just look at how many sold out concerts and music festivals take place every year, not to mention the transformation of how music has been distributed over the years. In fact, researchers have discovered that music even has several health benefits.

The Huffington Post reported earlier this year that music affects the immune system by increasing the antibodies, the first line of defense against disease. Music was also found to lower stress hormones, helping critically ill patients relax. The Huffington Post also reported that studies show how music helps the body consume oxygen more efficiently while exercising.

More great news comes from Reuters, as they report a new study that shows music can help surgery patients by decreasing their pain, easing their anxiety, and also lessening the need for painkillers.

The research was co-led by Catherine Meads from Brunel University and Martin Hirsch of Queen Mary University of London, who studied 7,000 patients and conducted a meta-analysis of the published randomized trails. They compared the effects of music to standard care and other nondrug interventions.

"We have known since the time of Florence Nightingale that listening to music has a positive impact on patients during surgery, by making them feel calmer and reducing pain. However, it's taken pulling together all the small studies...into one robust meta-analysis to really prove it works," said Hirsch.

Meads recommended: "Music is a non-invasive, safe, cheap intervention that should be available to everyone undergoing surgery."

Moreover, Paul Glasziou of Australia's Bond University, who was not involved in the study, commented: "Music is a simple and cheap intervention. A drug with similar effects might generate substantial marketing."

While this is great news for those on the fence about playing music during surgery, the study authors warned that whatever kind of music the patient prefers to have played during the operation must not interfere with the medical team's communication, as this poses as a risk for the patient. Music levels must be regulated to enable smooth communication between surgeons and their teams.

Recently, Livescience reported that music has a positive effect on those who struggle with Alzheimer's and dementia. In a 2010 study led by Boston University Nicholas Simmons-Stern, results showed that Alzheimer's patients better recalled song lyrics when they were sung rather than spoken.

Simmons-Stern said: "It suggested that music might enhance new memory formation in patients."

It seems like there is so much more to learn about the relationship of music and well-being. Andrew Budson, associate director for Boston University Alzheimer's Disease Center also said, "I think that music as a scientific area of study has not been thought to be legitimate or mainstream until very recently."

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