Public Release: 

Music therapy increases effectiveness of pulmonary rehabilitation for COPD patients

The Mount Sinai Hospital / Mount Sinai School of Medicine

Patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and other chronic respiratory disorders who received music therapy in conjunction with standard rehabilitation saw an improvement in symptoms, psychological well-being and quality of life compared to patients receiving rehabilitation alone, according to a new study by researchers at The Louis Armstrong Center of Music and Medicine at Mount Sinai Beth Israel (MSBI). Study findings were published this week in Respiratory Medicine and suggest that music therapy may be an effective addition to traditional treatment.

COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States with symptoms including shortness of breath, wheezing, an ongoing cough, frequent colds or flu, and chest tightness. Patients with COPD are often socially isolated, unable to get to medical services and underserved in rehabilitation programs, making effective treatment difficult.

The 68 study participants were diagnosed with chronic disabling respiratory diseases, including COPD. Over the course of six weeks, a randomized group of these patients attended weekly music therapy sessions. Each session included live music, visualizations, wind instrument playing and singing, which incorporated breath control techniques. Certified music therapists provided active music-psychotherapy. The music therapy sessions incorporated patients' preferred music, which encouraged self-expression, increased engagement in therapeutic activities and an opportunity to cope with the challenges of a chronic disease.

"The care of chronic illness is purposefully shifting away from strict traditional assessments that once focused primarily on diagnosis, morbidity and mortality rates," said Joanne Loewy, DA, Director of the Louis Armstrong Center for Music and Medicine at MSBI, where the study was conducted. "Instead, the care of the chronically ill is moving toward methods that aim to preserve and enhance quality of life of our patients and activities of daily living through identification of their culture, motivation, caregiver/home trends and perceptions of daily wellness routines."

"Music therapy has emerged as an essential component to an integrated approach in the management of chronic respiratory disease," said Jonathan Raskin, MD, co-author of the study and Director of the Alice Lawrence Center for Health and Rehabilitation at MSBI. "The results of this study provide a comprehensive foundation for the establishment of music therapy intervention as part of pulmonary rehabilitation care."

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The researchers who conducted the study work at the Louis Armstrong Center for Music and Medicine at MSBI. In addition to conducting research and providing health services to New York City's performing artists, the Center's staff teaches and trains music therapists. The study's lead author, Bernardo Canga, MMT, was one such research fellow. Funding for the study was provided by Johnson & Johnson's Society for the Arts In Healthcare and the Louis Armstrong Education Foundation. Yamaha donated recorders for patient use in the study.

About the Mount Sinai Health System

The Mount Sinai Health System is an integrated health system committed to providing distinguished care, conducting transformative research, and advancing biomedical education. Structured around seven hospital campuses and a single medical school, the Health System has an extensive ambulatory network and a range of inpatient and outpatient services -- from community-based facilities to tertiary and quaternary care.

The System includes approximately 6,100 primary and specialty care physicians; 12 joint-venture ambulatory surgery centers; more than 140 ambulatory practices throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, Long Island, and Florida; and 31 affiliated community health centers. Physicians are affiliated with the renowned Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, which is ranked among the highest in the nation in National Institutes of Health funding per investigator. The Mount Sinai Hospital is ranked as one of the nation's top 10 hospitals in Geriatrics, Cardiology/Heart Surgery, and Gastroenterology, and is in the top 25 in five other specialties in the 2014-2015 'Best Hospitals' issue of U.S. News & World Report. Mount Sinai's Kravis Children's Hospital also is ranked in seven out of ten pediatric specialties by U.S. News & World Report. The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai is ranked 11th nationally for Ophthalmology, while Mount Sinai Beth Israel is ranked regionally.

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