Sound Health

Music can reduce stress, enhance relaxation, reduce muscle tension, and evoke an emotional response. A fast, upbeat tune gets your pulse racing; a leisurely one can slow down the pace.

Hospitals are inevitably places that produce stress. Patients and family members are coping with emotions due to trauma, injury, and pain. Compounding the situation is the unfamiliar sounds of elevators, paging systems, beeps, buzzers, and other patients with their family and friends—a cacophony of noise that increases stress.

Of course, your friendly acoustical consultant can provide a sound isolation design to minimize the impact of outside noise, but the fundamental need of a body to relax, to regroup in order to better heal comes from a doctor’s care – and music. Scientific studies have shown the value of music therapy on the body, mind, and spirit of children and adults. A Time Magazine article “Music and the Mind”, published in the November 14, 2005 issue, focused on the benefits of music therapy in patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. According to the article, “more and more nursing homes and hospitals are finding that working with a music therapist can make a big difference”. The American Cancer Society states that a number of clinical trials have shown the benefit of music therapy for short-term pain, including pain from cancer.

An acoustical environment that promotes healing may sound futuristic but some hospitals are already equipped with a television channel that does just that. The Continuous Ambient Relaxation Environment® (C.A.R.E.) broadcasts relaxing music and images designed to bring some peace to the often chaotic and stressful hospital world. The images of mountains, landscapes, close-ups of flowers and riverbeds and other natural images move slowly and do not include people. The instrumental music is original, so that it will not bring up any associations. Acoustically, the music also helps to mask the surrounding hospital noises.

A healing environment isn’t just for hospitals. Try listening at home or the office and let the music work its magic.