READING – A new music therapy program, the first of its kind in the area, will introduce live music to babies, children, and young adults who are patients at Reading Hospital. Fully funded by Reading Hospital Foundation, this innovative pilot program began today, Monday, July 23.
Music therapy will be offered to pediatric patients in the hospital’s emergency department, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and inpatient pediatric unit. The goal is to help patients heal faster and better cope with the stress of hospitalization.
A board-certified music therapist will visit babies, children, and young adults, to play a selection of music on a keyboard, acoustic guitar, or ukulele. Toddlers and older children can also participate in making music by playing other instruments, such as tambourines, glockenspiels, rubber mallets, small drums, maracas, egg shakers, bells, and castanets.
“Live music helps modulate environmental noise in the hospital and provide a more aesthetically pleasing environment,” said Tim Marks, MSN, MBA, RN, CEN, NE-BC, Senior Director – Emergency & Observation Services. “It helps release anxiety and tension that may come from fear of procedures and being separated from loved ones.”
Sessions will be held on an individual, family, or group basis, based on an interdisciplinary treatment approach and patient goals. The sessions will range from 20-45 minutes, according to individualized needs and developmental age of the patients.
Music therapy promotes positive, playful, and supportive interactions and gives children the ability to express their thoughts, fears, and wishes through music. It has been shown to have positive outcomes in the treatment and healing processes.
In the NICU, live music helps babies by reducing heart rate and increasing oxygen saturation. It can also be used in helping to sedate patients or decrease pain during procedures. Music therapy has been found to reduce pain, distress, and length of stay in the hospital.
Other beneficial outcomes are increased engagement in treatment and better emotional outcomes for the patient and family. Music therapy can also help families cope with the stress of intensive care for newborns.