Music Therapy Effective for COPD Patients

Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disorders (COPD) may achieve better pulmonary rehabilitation outcomes when rehab is combined with music therapy.

Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may achieve better pulmonary rehabilitation outcomes when rehab is combined with music therapy, according to findings published in Respiratory Medicine.

Researchers from the Mount Sinai Hospital and Mount Sinai School of Medicine tested 68 COPD patients aged 48 to 88 with moderate to severe disease in order to examine the effect of music therapy as an intervention for respiratory symptoms, psychological well being and quality of life for these patients. The researchers noted that COPD patients are often socially isolated and treatment is especially difficult when they are unable to get medical services in underserved rehabilitation programs.

For six weeks, patients attended weekly music therapy sessions, including live music, visualizations, and wind instrument playing and singing (incorporating breath control techniques) led by certified music therapists. The patients were encouraged to choose their own music, encouraging self expression, increased engagement in therapeutic activities, and an opportunity to cope with their disease, a press release explained. The other half of the patients were in standard care therapy.

“The care of chronic illness is purposefully shifting away from strict traditional assessments that once focused primarily on diagnosis, morbidity, and mortality rates,” Joanne Loewy, DA, Director of the Louis Armstrong Center for Music and Medicine at MSBI, where the study was conducted, explained in the statement. “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.”

Patients in the music intervention group showed improved symptoms in measures of depression, respiratory mastery, and fatigue based on the Chronic Respiratory Questionnaire Self Reported analysis scale. Based on the Dyspnea Visual Analogue Scale, music therapy patients also showed improvement particularly between weeks 5 and 6.

“Music therapy has emerged as an essential component to an integrated approach in the management of chronic respiratory disease,” co-author Jonathan Raskin, MD, added in the press release. “The results of this study provide a comprehensive foundation for the establishment of music therapy intervention as part of pulmonary rehabilitation care.”

The researchers believe their evidence suggests that music therapy combined with standard pulmonary rehabilitation may prove to be an effective treatment route for the management of pulmonary diseases such as COPD.