Music Therapy Success Stories: Procedural Support for an Adult with Brain Injury
The use of music during a procedure can reduce the tactile neurons to help the patient experience less pain. Here’s a little bit about how and why it works.
Sitting up in bed, her eyes were locked on mine as she mouthed the words, “West Virginia, Mountain Mama”. The music therapist stood bedside as the nursing staff completed the medical procedure. Using the music to offer support, and encouragement as the patient endured the difficult procedure, the music therapist continued, “Take me home, country roads”.
Pain is defined as “a unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissues damage” (Whitehead-Pleaux, Baryza, & Sheridan, 2006). The perception of pain is measured by pain sensitivity and how well the patient copes with the pain.
Coping skills that work best to help cope with pain are distraction, relaxation, and positive reinforcement (Whitehead-Pleaux, Baryza, & Sheridan, 2006). According to the gate control theory of pain, “pain can be reduced by stimulation of sensory neurons” (Mendell, 2014).
The use of music during a procedure, such as botox injections, can provide auditory stimulation that can essentially reduce the tactile neurons to help the patient experience less pain. At the end of the procedure, music therapy can help transition a patient from a state of distress to a state of relaxation. (Edwards, 1998).
As the procedure came to an end, the patient eyes gently closed and her breathing became deeper. Although music therapy can not completely remove the patients pain, it can provide structure, comfort, and predictability in an environment that is ever changing.
–Written by Cassie Bringhurst, SCMT, MT-BC