Musical therapy a big hit with patients at local hospital

Published: Nov. 29, 2011 at 4:06 PM EST
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NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Music has long been thought to cure the soul and transform a person's mood. Now, a local hospital is using the gift of music as a medical tool and as therapy for patients during their stay in the hospital.

Claire Littlejohn has been singing all of her life, but for the past two and a half years she has been singing with a different purpose, to heal.

"It's one of those phenomena in life like the need for food or shelter there's a need for music," said Littlejohn, a music therapist at Trident Medical Center.

Littlejohn is a certified music therapist, one of only a few in the state that uses music to sooth and motivate the physical emotional and spiritual needs of patients.

"I work a lot with patients who have pain management issues so we will use music assisted relaxation to help give them a coping skill to manage their pain as well as in the moment," she said.

That need for music has Littlejohn hitting a high note with patients like Iris Bridwell. The type of music depends on the patient's taste and for Bridwell, it is country.

"Due to this music therapy it keeps me calm and it gives me hope and I don't mind coming," Bridwell said.

Bridwell travels an hour twice a week to get her three-hour magnesium infusions.

"The drive was making me depressed and now I look forward to coming," Bridwell said.

Littlejohn works alongside the treatment team using her musical instrument as a motivation to patients young and old, from babies to seniors. She says studies show music therapy to be very beneficial with a 73 percent decrease in overall anxiety and pain after a session.

"It's one of those phenomena in life like the need for food or shelter there's a need for music," Littlejohn said.

Littlejohn says the use of music therapy in hospitals is catching on. Currently, there are 100 music therapists in the state and 5,000 nationwide.

"I cannot say enough about music therapy," she said. "Every hospital in the world should have it."

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