Whole Life Magazine

August/September 2013

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whole living THE TRANS FORMATIONAL POWER OF MUS IC By Shari Cohen Sound healing for low cost with no side effects THERAPIST MARC DAVIS OF CHILDREN'S MUS IC FUND scored a donated guitar from a local shop for his patient. Later that evening, after much convincing, reluctant nurses in the pediatric wing ushered a group of children, many with IV poles, to the playroom on their floor. As Justin—an amateur award-winning guitarist, as it turned out—rocked tunes from Red Hot Chili Peppers and Green Day, another young boy began tapping his hand on the table. Someone else grabbed a spoon and started drumming. Gradually all the children joined in, clapping hands, tapping feet until the chaotic mixture of beats became one, slowing to include a child struggling with cerebral palsy spasms. The children beamed and nurses were moved to tears as 18 wholelifetimesmagazine.com the children forgot for a little while their pain, fear and hospital boredom. It so inspired Dr. Tachdjian that he went on to create the Santa Monica-based nonprofit Children's Music Fund. RESONANT HEALING Whether it is an operatic crescendo, the passionate tones of a jazz saxophone or even hip hop, the human body resonates to music, so it's no surprise that it would be used as a treatment for illness. When we're ill there is something disharmonious happening in our bodies, so it's actually more surprising that something this simple isn't used more frequently to alleviate symptoms. In a very general sense music can be heard as background music in the offices of health professionals and hospitals, but considering it's been scientifically measured to produce changes in blood pressure and heart rate, improve respiration and cardiac output, relax muscle tension and increase levels of calm and pleasure, it is underutilized in the therapeutic community. Talin Babikian, a clinical neuropsychologist and assistant clinical professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, notes that, "Music is hardwired and present in infancy—even newborns demonstrate an ability to discriminate and show interest in song and musical instruments." In a music therapy paper she wrote that, "Music serves as a cognitive imagery tool that creates a distraction, allowing patients to focus on something positive and taking away from negative stimuli. It also helps patients relax, which in turn eases pain perception by interrupting or blocking specific pain pathways that send signals from the body to the brain. With relaxation and positive social experiences, endorphins and oxytocin are released. The former simply helps us feel good and the latter is responsible for bonding and memory." Indeed, Alzheimer's and dementia patients treated with Photos: :Children's Music Fund D uring his residency at Massachusetts General Hospital, when pediatric physician Raffi Tachdjian was searching for a way to accelerate healing in his young patients, inspiration came in the form of a teen with terminal bone cancer. When the doctor asked the discouraged boy what he'd like to do to, Justin replied, "Actually I wouldn't mind playing music." This resonated with Tachdjian, also a musician, and he quickly

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