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May 21st, 2009
Music and Medicine
Flute Therapy

Ronit Azoulay, flautist: The flute is to work with her breathing. I’m breathing as I play the flute. I’m noticing her breathing rate and matching it with maybe one or two note phrases, maybe longer. She is on a respirator. One of the things that can be a struggle on a respirator is that it can be uncomfortable. So we’re both looking to influence the rhythms but also the relaxation in the body.

Research has demonstrated that we entrained to sounds outside of us and rhythms. The word entrainment is from physics originally, and in this context it means is that we synchronize with external rhythms in music.

Doctor at Beth Israel: We wanted to study whether or not music therapy would impact on quality of life, respiratory rate, oxygen saturation. The challenge of having chronic lung disease very much has to do with breathing and breathing correctly and training people to breathe as well as possible. When engaged in that effort one can see better oxygen levels, less shortness of breath.

Ronit Azoulay: During the relaxation the heart rate when down back to around 84-85  is what I had noticed when I was playing. And now after the session it’s back at around 90.

Doctor at Beth Israel: We’ve engaged with 20 patients as a pilot study. And the first observations are that [inaudible] rates do go down. Oxygen levels we have to look more closely at. It’s data accruing.  Hopefully it will have some positive outcome.

Ronit Azoulay: Music therapy is a field that is continuing to grow.  The research in the feld is getting more and more sophisticated and understanding how music—does it influence quality of life? Does it influence breathing? Does it influence heart and breathing rhythms as well? So it’s continuing to grow.

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