Music therapy plays vital role in healing patients at Dignity Health Northridge

More doctors are understanding the power of food as medicine. Now, new research is shedding light on music as a form of medicine.

Dignity Health - Northridge Hospital Medical Center started a music therapy program in their pediatric and neonatal intensive care units. The results were immediate.

Julissa Carrasco, 11, was admitted to the hospital after a severe asthma attack.

Board-certified musical therapist Julia Summers visits her room with her guitar and various percussion instruments.

"Music can address emotional issue," Summers said. "It can address your physiological state."

Together they play a variety of Carrasco's favorite songs.

"Music therapy is one of those things that are priceless. You can't really put a price on the benefits," said Dr. Richard Kang, Medical Director of Dignity Health Northridge's Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.

By using a harmonica, a child with asthma might find it easier to take deep breaths by using a harmonica, Kang added.

Valentina, a 9-day-old infant, developed a blood infection shortly after birth.

Summers uses a sleep sedation technique to help relax her and get her ready for sleep.

When Summers visits patients, she is constantly watching for cues.

"You see the heart rate go down," she said. "Oxygen goes up and everything kind of stabilizes."

The program is supported through a grant from the Music Man Foundation.

"Music can also address spiritual issues so it's working on multiple different levels so it really can work as medicine," Summer said.
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