Whole Life Magazine

August/September 2013

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Page 18 of 51

"Everything in the universe has a rhythm, everything dances." ~Maya Angelou STACIE SHEWMAKE OF CHILDREN'S MUS IC FUND music therapy have shown a shift in mood, reduction in agitation, better cognitive function and more coordinated motor movements, and while music therapy cannot cure dementia, it has the potential to slow its progress by activating the brain and its neurological connections, promoting memory and a sense of self-recollection through sound. "Even if patients are unable to verbalize what a song is, they are often moved by the music and feel the associations," explains music therapist Marcelo Gindlin. "When recognition does appear across their face and they mouth the words or begin singing along, it is an amazing moment." Deforia Lane, director of music therapy at University Hospitals of Cleveland, adds, "If you use the right music to help exercise and stimulate movement to posture changes, and they still have some cognitive ability, they will respond." She uses a modality called Melodic Intonation, which uses "rhythmic pacing"—the rhythmic predictability of a melody that someone already knows—to stimulate that person to complete an open-ended phrase. The result? Dementia patients are sometimes surprised to find themselves singing, she says. ES PECIALLY FOR CHILDREN life. Board-certified music therapist Vanya Green is part of the UCLA Pediatric Pain Program and Whole Child LA. Working with children at UCLA, she's experienced firsthand how therapeutic music-making helps children relax through challenging illnesses involving difficult procedures, and feel a sense of empowerment. "One boy who endured many procedures and essentially lived for more than a year in an intensive care unit flourished during our sessions," Green remembers. "We used guitars, drums, electronic percussion, music-making software and more. Through music therapy he learned to breathe deeply, write and record songs, and play instruments. He was empowered to be a part of his own healing process." Justin, the young patient who originally inspired Dr. Tachdjian, didn't survive, but the music program did. Discouraged that he hadn't been able to save the boy's life, the doctor lamented to Justin's father, "Medicine and I failed your son." "No," Justin's father corrected. "Medicine failed, but you restored his dignity." PROGRAMS THAT INSPIRE AND HEAL • THE MUSIC RX UNIT is a mobile tool at Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA. A high-tech interactive studio on wheels, it holds a variety of instruments, including drums, keyboards, guitars and software for recording music, as well as a large LCD screen that plays hundreds of music videos. It also has numerous iPods it loans to patients. • AT CEDARS SINAI MEDICAL CENTER, the volunteer Music for Healing program has more than 2,700 participants who annually provide almost 220,000 hours of time. • THE CHILDREN'S MUSIC FUND provides music therapy and instruments to young people with chronic or life-altering illness. www.thecmf.org For children with disabilities such as autism and developmental disorders, age-appropriate music helps improve self-expression, social skills and communication, and supports less-measurable goals of improved self-esteem and quality of august / september 2013 19

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