Therapeutic Music Program Helps Cancer Patients

By Sharon Boston

Media Relations Manager

Music and sound, such as a happy song on the radio or the frightening score of a scary movie, have the ability to change our moods. Many people have a physical and emotional connection to sound, and scientific research has shown that music can be beneficial in healing.

Now, through a grant from the Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation for Cancer Research, the University of Maryland Medical Center is offering live therapeutic music to patients receiving treatment at the Greenebaum Cancer Center.

Therapeutic musician Terri Fevang plays keyboard pieces tailored to each patient’s mood or emotions, so each visit is different. Some patients may be anxious while awaiting test results, while others may be tired after receiving chemotherapy or radiation.

“The music is peaceful and calming, and takes my mind off my pain and worries,” says Jessica Montgomery, a 29-year-old leukemia patient. “When Terri comes in, we turn the TV off and just listen to her play. My dad is usually there too, and he often falls asleep because it’s so relaxing.”

The live therapeutic music program is part of the Medical Center’s Integrative Care team, which offers treatments such as acupressure, guided imagery and yoga breathing to patients throughout the hospital, including the Shock Trauma Center.  The goal is to help patients relax, optimizing health and healing.

Terri playingThe Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation grant also allows researchers from the University of Maryland School of Medicine to study the potential benefits of live therapeutic music for these cancer patients. The grant will fund a pilot study to see if the therapy can affect patients’ anxiety, mood and quality of life as well as some physical indicators such as pulse oximetry, which measures the pulse and oxygen in the blood.

“We have received a great deal of positive feedback from patients about the music program. Now we want to see if the data supports this encouraging anecdotal evidence,” explains Chris D’Adamo, PhD, director of research at the University of Maryland Center for Integrative Medicine, which is part of the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

If the pilot program with 30 patients is successful, researchers hope to launch a larger study on the benefits of therapeutic music.

 Click here to see a WBAL-TV story about the live therapeutic music story.


Exercise Tips for Heart Health

By Michael Miller, M.D.
Director, UM Center for Preventive Cardiology

Most of us can improve our heart health simply with moderate exercise. For example, 30 minutes of brisk walking (3-4 miles per hour) 6 days a week has been shown to reduce the risk of a heart attack by about 30%.  A great and inexpensive gizmo to help stay motivated is a pedometer (cost is about $20;   Simply adding 2,000 steps a day, which is equal to walking 1 mile, can result in a 10-pound weight loss over a year.

Do activities that you enjoy!  For example, one of the most overlooked yet beneficial activities for your heart is dancing.  Listening to music that makes you feel good causes the additional release of heart protective endorphins.  You don’t need to worry about weather conditions or even having a partner. Just turn on the radio or your iPod and dance the night away.  Actually …  just dance part of the night away, because a good night’s sleep is also good for your heart!

Sounds of the Season

By Chris Lindsley
Blog Editor

For the last 25 years, the University of Maryland Medical Center Chamber Players have been performing holiday music for patients, staff and visitors. The Chamber Players consist of doctors, other hospital and University of Maryland School of Medicine employees and medical students and others.

The Chamber Players have two more concerts, on December 18 and 21, from noon to 1 in the lobby of UMMC’s Gudelsky Building.

Take  much-needed break from your holiday preparations by getting in the spirit of the season. Need more motivation? UMMC cardiologist Michael Miller has shown that joyful music may be good for your heart, so think of it as taking a health break.