Tiny Preemies Get A Boost From Live Music Therapy
CHICAGO (AP) — As the guitarist strums and softly sings a lullaby in Spanish, tiny Augustin Morales stops squirming in his hospital crib and closes his eyes.
This is therapy in a newborn intensive care unit, and research suggests that music may help those born way too soon adapt to life outside the womb.
Some tiny preemies are too small and fragile to be held and comforted by human touch, and many are often fussy and show other signs of stress. Other common complications include immature lungs, eye disease, problems with sucking, and sleeping and alertness difficulties.
Recent studies and anecdotal reports suggest the vibrations and soothing rhythms of music, especially performed live in the hospital, might benefit preemies and other sick babies.
Many insurers won’t pay for music therapy because of doubts that it results in any lasting medical improvement. Some doctors say the music works best at relieving babies’ stress and helping parents bond with infants too sick to go home.
But amid beeping monitors, IV poles and plastic breathing tubes in infants’ rooms at Chicago’s Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital, music therapist Elizabeth Klinger provides a soothing contrast that even the tiniest babies seem to notice.
"What music therapy can uniquely provide is that passive listening experience that just encourages relaxation for the patient, encourages participation by the family," Klinger said after a recent session in Augustin’s hospital room.
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