The benefits of music on our health

2023-06-30 08:39:46

Researchers at Mälardalen University (MDU) in Sörmland, Sweden, are evaluating the benefits of music therapy — and specifically méthode FMT (Functionally oriented Music Therapy)as a method of treatment for people suffering from chronic pain, within the framework of a partnership with a health center (1).

Born at the end of the 1980s in Sweden, the FMT method consists, after evaluation by the therapist, in encouraging different movements of the patient’s body using the practice and listening to various musical instruments. For the time being, only a pilot study has demonstrated the interest of this method in a rehabilitation center, in people who are victims of Parkinson or a stroke (it helped them recover better…). But the researchers want to test it to be able to compare its effects with the standard care usually delivered to people suffering from chronic pain.

Music a natural painkiller

If the Swedish researchers want to validate the impact of the FMT method on pain, it is because many studies have already established that music relieves theanxietyimproved the quality of sleep and could be used as a complementary treatment for chronic pain. A recent case study (2) involved a woman with chronic pain for 20 years.

The researchers showed that listening to music, in addition to its effects on pain and anxiety, also motivated the patient to exercise, improved the quality of her sleep, and even reduced the effects of withdrawal following discontinuation of opioid analgesics. Explanation given by the researchers: listening to music provides a pleasant experience, to which would be added mechanisms that are still somewhat mysterious, but seem powerful enough to be able to partially compensate for the absence of opioids, these drugs used in chronic pain resistant to other analgesics, but which can lead to a tragic addiction…

A more agile and youthful brain for longer

More gratifying still, very recently, Swiss researchers have shown that practicing and actively listening to music can curb cognitive decline in seniors healthy (3), promoting brain plasticity and stimulating the production of gray matter and working memory.

To do this, they followed for six months 132 retirees aged 62 to 78 and in good health, divided into two groups: the members of the first group followed piano Lesson weekly. Those of the second, courses ofactive listening focused on the recognition of instruments and the analysis of the structure of works from a wide range of musical styles. The weekly lessons lasted one hour, to which was added half an hour of personal work at home per day… The participants had never taken music lessons for more than six months in their lives — this in order to be able to assess the effect of learning music on their brain plasticity.

After six months, neuroimaging revealed, in all participants, an increase in gray matter in brain areas involved in complex cognitive tasks, particularly in the cerebellum, a highly mobilized area in the working memory. Without going so far as to “rejuvenate” the brain, these musical interventions nevertheless seemed capable of slow down brain aging, and this all the more so as the courses were followed assiduously, as well as the daily work at home. Enough to motivate all those who haven’t had the opportunity to learn music!

Read also Music therapy: when music helps to heal…

Read also Forward music in the hospital with Music Care

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