"Please don't stop the music," because it's helping children in hospitals feel better. According to a new study from Northwestern University, music by popular artists such as Rihanna and Taylor Swift eases kids' pain after recovering from major surgery. Researchers divided pediatric patients into three groups: children who listened to popular music in different genres, children who got listened to short audio books, and children who heard silence. The experiment lasted 30 minutes, which was enough time to see a difference in those who got to listen to something and those who didn't hear anything. Kids who heard music or a short audio book after surgery all fared better than those who didn't. The study also found that music and audio books were equally effective in helping kids feel less pain.
Dr. Santhanam Suresh, the senior author of the study, offers his explanation for the soothing power of audio therapy in this situation. "There is a certain amount of learning that goes on with pain," he said. "The idea is, if you don't think about it, maybe you won't experience it as much. We are trying to cheat the brain a little bit. We are trying to refocus mental channels on to something else."
When my youngest brother was growing up, he had a bunch of surgeries for one reason or another. Whether doctors were putting tubes in his ears (three times!) or correcting his lazy eye, he was a tough kid about it all. Still, I could see that it hurt, especially when he seriously broke his leg two years ago. If there was any way to ease his pain without any side effects, I'm sure my parents would have jumped right on it. In fact, after hearing the results of the study, some children have already started bringing in their own music to listen to post-surgery.
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