I listen to music a lot. I have an iPod in the bathroom I listen to as I get ready, and I usually take my iPod with me when I work out. I make lots of new playlists to listen to on my commute, constantly updating them with new songs depending on my mood. I grew up playing the piano; taking lessons weekly and finding new songs to learn. I would pick a new song, play it over and over again until I perfected every chord, then move on to a new piece. I am kind of the same way now - I find a song I like and then play it on repeat, over and over again, until every note has seeped into my soul and I've soaked up the feeling in every song.
Now, it's not very often that I hear songs about physical therapy, or songs that remind me of my work. But two songs have recently caught my attention - both country songs, of course. "I'm Gonna Love You Through It" by Martina McBride is about a 38-year-old woman with breast cancer. "I'll Walk" by Bucky Covington is the story of a girl with a spinal cord injury after a motor vehicle accident, and has brought tears to my eyes more than once. Both songs illustrate the process of healing and the support needed to get through the difficult times. Both songs are from the perspective of the patient, which we need to be reminded of often.
I don't incorporate a lot of music therapy into my physical therapy sessions but hearing songs like these remind me of the power of music. A research article titled "The Anxiety and Pain-Reducing Effects of Music Interventions: A Systematic Review" by Ulrica Nilsson and published April 2008 in AORN concluded that in half of the 42 reviewed studies, music had positive effects on reducing a patient's anxiety and pain, and further research is needed.
Integrating physical therapy and music can result in more pleasant outcomes for our patients. So the next time your plan includes interventions that may cause your patients pain, encourage them to bring an iPod with them, or offer a small headset for your patient's use in the clinic. Many hospitals have a few music stations on the television set that can be used during a session. Try it sometime this week and feel free to leave a comment below on how using music affected your physical therapy practice.