Mankind is neither short of diseases nor remedies for them. Acupuncture, Ayurveda, Siddha and Yunani are alternative medical practices; yoga for improved digestion, laughter therapy for reduced stress levels and anxiety and music therapy for healthier mind and body are different approaches apart from the regular allopathy practices and medications to heal the body and soul.
Music for Life
Music is beyond language barriers and people worldwide enjoy and appreciate any good music, be it Hindustani, Classical, Ghazal, Pop, Jazz, Rock or instrumental. It is a part of every culture which pleases people, makes them dance to their favorite tunes, boosts their mood, uplifts happiness quotient and even helps recall a distant memory! All the more, music can also bring about other health benefits.
Our brain has two hemispheres namely, left and right. We categorize people as left- or right-brained people based on their thinking type. Right-brained individuals are described to be versatile in arts and music. Left-brained or right-brained, if you are curious to know what you are versatile in, please visit the website www.firsteatright.com. Science and technology improvements help scientists learn more about human brain, how it works, which part of the brain responds to music in a better way and how music might be put to use to ease diseases and mental problems.
Sound is an integral part of human lives and music is the most vital sound. Ears receive music and other sounds as sound waves that create vibrations on our eardrum thereby transforming them into electrical signals. These signals move through the auditory nerve to the auditory cortex which interprets the sound as something we understand (music). Music does not restrict itself to the brain areas that process sound but spreads its influence on other areas as well. There are studies showing that music “lights up’ brain areas dominant for emotions, memory and even physical movement.
Music for Health
Music soothes people’s mind and can even aid in movement. Parkinson’s disease cripples the affected individual by barring him/her from walking and moving over a period and research studies shows that when a particular beat is embedded in music, it can help a person with movement disorder to walk. Mind-related disorders such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, autism and traumatic brain injury, hearing loss and stroke also improve with music. Even hearing loss can be procrastinated as we age. Ability to hear decreases over time and music helps fight against this.
Kids reap huge benefits when introduced to music at a young age as their brains are still developing. Music has a positive impact on their ability to focus, learn, grasp a new language and improve overall brain development. Studies prove that when music was introduced as a part of school curriculum for two years in a certain school, those kids garnered improved learning ability and reading and writing skills that can last a lifetime. Once the brain finds its way to respond to sound appropriately, the benefits are carried far beyond the music classes and even when the classes stop. But, the longer you are in touch with music, the stronger you become.
Music goes way beyond entertainment and is an established health profession in the form of ‘Music Therapy’ to address social, physical, emotional and cognitive needs of individuals. This is not a new-age therapy but is as old as the writings of Aristotle and Plato. There are board-certified therapists who treat patients with different medical conditions using techniques that go way beyond making them hear music. Depending on the health concern, the therapist might choose different ways to address the problem-melody or rhythm might be used to reinstate lost abilities due to brain injury or developmental disability. Some people connect over music, for instance shared musical experiences can help a friend connect with her/his bestie who has dementia and try reviving memories. Behavior disorders in youngsters who are unable to control their emotions can also be brought under control with music.
One must also be aware that not all people respond to music therapy in a similar way and it might benefit some people but affect certain others. Brain-related injuries or disorders might impact people in unknown ways. Some of them might find music to be overstimulating while some others hate listening to music as it reminds them of negative/traumatic memories. Music therapists can help identify and understand when music can be helpful or harmful.
Similar to your daily exercise routines and healthy diet meals, include a bit of music too in your daily life! This helps you to add joy to life, stay connected, boost your mood and improve your health. There is no age barrier and no one is too young or too old to add a bit of music to his/her everyday routine.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.